March 19, 2010
QUEENS, N.Y. - On Friday, March 19, Red Storm Director of Athletics Chris Monasch commented on the decision to make a men's basketball coaching change at St. John's University. Scroll down for comments from Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., University President and coach Norm Roberts.
CHRIS MONASCH, DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS
On the decision to make the coaching change:
"The University's decision to part ways with Coach Roberts was difficult, particularly because as an administration, we recognize the efforts of Norm and his staff over the last six years. We were at a low point in our program's history, dealing with NCAA probation, a reduction in scholarships, the possibility of further NCAA sanctions and an expanded BIG EAST Conference which would prove to be the most demanding in the country over the last few years. Norm restored a great deal of integrity and respectability to our men's basketball program.
We appreciate Norm's hard work to put a competitive product on the court and bring in student-athletes with great character. There is no doubt that we have improved during his tenure. We have a proud tradition of winning, still ranking among the top seven programs in the nation with a pedigree of Hall of Fame coaches like Joe Lapchick and Lou Carnesecca. At this time we feel a change in the direction of the leadership of the program will be of the best benefit to us in the long-term. Nine seniors will comprise a mostly-upperclass team next year, and we expect to have an extremely competitive year. Over the course of the 2010-11 season, we will also have to gain commitments to replace those nine scholarships, and we believe that success can be attained in the near future in building consistently from year-to-year, which will be the responsibility of a new coach and coaching staff.
The decision was not made on a game-to-game or week-to-week basis. What we have been evaluating is a body of work over time. The challenges of what Norm and his staff faced were certainly great and we appreciate how far he has brought us. At this time, we feel that making a coaching change is the most efficient way to reach the next level of success as a men's basketball program, for all of our current student-athletes and for the ones that will join our program over the next several years."
On the process:
"I discussed this with Father Harrington and Jim Pellow yesterday by phone, as they are in Europe at University Board of Trustee meetings, which were planned far in advance. I spoke with Norm and his representative, Dennis Coleman, last night. Norm's contract is a five-year deal which rolls over every year, essentially giving him a new five-year contract at the start of each season. There was a buyout policy included, which was enacted.
Again, this was not a game-to-game or week-to-week decision. I had been in contact with the University's senior leadership to review the different possible scenarios throughout the year, and particularly as the 2009-10 season came down the stretch."
On the process for a coaching search and ideal candidates:
"We will look nationally for a proven winner at a high level who will be able to impart that success to our program. We seek a candidate who has an understanding of the sports culture of New York City and its pressures and media demands, who has the ability to recruit New York student-athletes, and who recognizes the importance of the winning tradition of St. John's men's basketball. We are looking for a candidate with a solid plan for marked improvement on the conference and national levels, while seeking to maintain the high level of integrity on and off the court that we have restored over the past several seasons.
In terms of any possible candidates and possible salary, I do not wish to discuss those details at this time."
On the current Red Storm team and NLI signee Ronald Roberts:
"Myself, Brian Colleary and Fr. James Maher, C.M., will meet with the team this afternoon. Moving forward, we will continue to meet with the student-athletes to discuss their individual situations. We are committed to our student-athletes and to NLI signee Ronald Roberts. We believe we are going to have an extremely competitive team next year, and when the new coach is in place, all of the student-athletes' concerns and issues will be worked out.
In accordance with NCAA regulations, both current student-athletes and men's basketball prospective student-athletes who have signed a NLI with St. John's University must obtain written permission from the University to speak with or contact another NCAA member institution before speaking with any coaching staff member from another school.
In addition, a currently enrolled student-athlete or a men's basketball prospective student-athlete who has signed a NLI with St. John's University will be subject to the BIG EAST Intra-Conference Transfer Policy.
In accordance with the BIG EAST Intra-Conference Transfer Policy, a men's basketball student-athlete is not permitted to transfer and compete for another BIG EAST member institution. In addition, a men's basketball prospective student-athlete, who has signed a valid NLI with a BIG EAST member institution, is not permitted to attend and compete for another BIG EAST member institution."
On the Norm Roberts Era:
"Norm Roberts restored integrity to the men's basketball program by bringing respectability back to St. John's after the program dealt with NCAA probation for his first two years.
His teams competed with some of the nation's top teams in the country's toughest conference, and on six occasions, Norm led his team to wins over Top 25 ranked opposition. His squad made the first NIT berth for the school since 2003 this past season and was extremely competitive all year.
We seek to maintain the values Coach Roberts brought to the program off the court, while making a return to the level of success this storied program has enjoyed for more than 100 years."
On the current St. John's coaching staff:
"The remainder of the coaches will be retained for a period that has yet to be determined, potentially through the end of the semester, attending to the needs of our student-athletes.
The new head coach would have the option, of course, to retain any staff members if desired."
On whether St. John's can be successful:
"We believe we can. Basketball has traditionally been New York City's game, and we are New York City's team. While high-level talent is certainly not exclusive to this part of the country, there is plenty of New York talent that we hope will continue to consider St. John's moving forward. We believe that things can turn around for us relatively quickly if we are able to keep some of the city's best talent at home for their college basketball experiences.
In terms of facilities, we have a $16 million, state-of-the-art practice facility in Taffner Field House which is among the finest facilities in the conference. We play a majority of our home games at "The World's Most Famous Arena," Madison Square Garden, which has unbelievable tradition and is also receiving a facelift over the next several off-seasons. We recently invested $20 million in renovations to venerable Carnesecca Arena, which now has amenities such as the new playing surface, comfortable chair back seating and a video scoreboard that have helped modernize the venue.
Place those factors in a suburban campus setting with the opportunities of metropolitan Manhattan in the background, the opportunity to play in the nation's most competitive conference, and the availability to market yourself and gain exposure in the world's top media market, it's not hard to see that we have a pretty good chance to turn this all around.
I believe all these resources and the hiring of our new coach will play an integral role in returning the program to national prominence."
On Coach Roberts:
"Norm is a first-class person and a professional. He understood the direction we wanted to go in and we wish him the best. We spoke to Norm at the appropriate time - when our evaluation of the season was complete."
On Fr. Harrington's role in the decision:
"I conferred with Fr. Harrington and the University's senior administration and we all agreed it was in the best interest of the program to move in a new direction. Fr. Harrington made a statement on Norm's tenure in the news release.
As for the coaching search, we will begin immediately and we will bring in the best candidate that we feel has all the qualities we're looking for to provide a winning program both on and off the court. Our mantra is `WIN, GRADUATE AND SERVE' - and our new coach will embody that theme.
Fr. Harrington, Jim Pellow and University's senior leadership are in Rome for scheduled meetings with our Board of Trustees. These meetings are scheduled years in advance. Again, Fr. Harrington has prepared a statement that we have shared with the media."
REV. DONALD J. HARRINGTON, C.M., PRESIDENT, ST. JOHN'S UNIVERSITY
On Coach Roberts:
"I have great respect for Norm Roberts and want to express, publicly, my appreciation for his accomplishments during the past six years. Norm recruited student-athletes who have represented the University well, both on the court and in the classroom. His professionalism and the exemplary way in which he and his players have conducted themselves have restored the integrity of our men's basketball program. We are deeply grateful for all Norm has done and wish him and his family great success in the years ahead."
COACH Norm Roberts
On his tenure:
"My wife [Pascale] and I appreciate the great opportunity to have coached at St. John's, and would like to offer our gratitude and appreciation to Father Harrington, Father Maher, Jim Pellow and Chris Monasch. They have all been very supportive of me, my staff and my family. Having grown up in Queens, I never could have imagined being afforded the opportunity to coach at one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country. I do believe the program is in a much stronger position than when I arrived, and is poised to take a major step up both in the BIG EAST and nationally. This is due to the hard work of our coaching staff and our players, and I wish this group of young men continued success in the future."