St. John’s University has fired men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson after four seasons, leaving the school with a hefty buyout. The coach was signed to a new deal in 2021 that was meant to run through the 2026-2027 season at $2.5 million per year. However, he was let go after failing to lead the team to an NCAA Tournament berth or a 20-win season during his tenure, and they have their eye on a big name to replace him.
Anderson’s $10 Million Buyout Raised by Boosters
According to sources, Anderson’s contract stipulates that firing him now means St. John’s owes him more than $10 million. In recent weeks, select boosters have rallied a significant portion of that money to lure a big-name coach, such as former Louisville college basketball coach Rick Pitino.
St. John’s will have to come up with $10 million to complete buy out with Mike Anderson.
— Dick Weiss (@HoopsWeiss) March 9, 2023
Anderson had a 69-56 record with the Red Storm and failed to take the team to any postseason tournament. His lack of ties to the New York City area and the northeast, coupled with the team’s poor performance, made him a poor fit for St. John’s. The program’s lack of a bona fide on-campus arena and weaker facilities compared to other Big East schools are additional factors that hindered the program’s success.
However, the lure of Madison Square Garden and the program’s storied past could help lure an exciting big-name coach. But it requires a head coach who can bring the right leadership and direction to the program.
Pitino Seen as Top Option for Red Storm
Pitino is seen as the top candidate for the job. He has the experience and the charisma to generate excitement and interest in the program.
However, he has a sordid past with all sorts of scandals and investigations. St. John’s seems like it is willing to move past that history and bring Pitino back to the Garden where he once coached the New York Knicks. If he accepts the job, the move is expected to be announced within 48 hours of the moment that his current team, Iona College, ends its season.
The buyout of Anderson’s contract is a hefty sum for a small school like St. John’s. However, the boosters’ efforts show the level of commitment and investment in the program. With Pitino, the school hopes to turn its fortunes around and create a winning culture that has been missing for years.
St. John’s is a former powerhouse in the Big East that needs a reset and new life. With new leadership and direction, they could once again become relevant and competitive.