The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Mike Anderson Out At St. John’s Amid Disappointing Results & Internal Turmoil

Anderson’s four years in Queens were marked by a 30-46 Big East record and no NCAA tournament appearances.
Forward Joel Soriano talks to head coach Mike Anderson in the 2022 Big East Quarterfinals.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

St. John’s University announced today that it is parting ways with Men’s Basketball head coach Mike Anderson and plans to conduct a national search for the program’s new leadership. Rick Pitino — who is the only coach in history to win NCAA national championships (one vacated) at two schools — is a target for the job, according to the New York Post.

The move comes less than a day after St. John’s (8) was eliminated from the Big East Tournament after squandering a 14-point lead over Marquette (1) in the quarterfinals. With the loss, the program was officially eliminated from NCAA tournament contention. Barring a surprise NIT selection, the Johnnies’ failure to make the semifinal round of their conference tournament ended their 2022-23 campaign.

“After fully evaluating the men’s basketball program, our University has decided a change is needed in both the leadership and direction of St. John’s Basketball,” said Mike Cragg, the St. John’s athletics director, in a press release. “We wish coach Mike Anderson and his family the best in their future.”

Anderson led St. John’s to a 68-56 overall record in his four seasons as head coach with no NCAA tournament appearances. Under his leadership, the Red Storm had a 30-46 record in conference play. Following a promising 2020-21 season that saw the Johnnies capture a winning record in league play, St. John’s extended Anderson to a six-year contract. There are four years left on that deal, with upwards of $10 million still owed to Anderson.

In the interim, the University confirmed that associate head coach Van Macon will lead the Men’s Basketball program.

Beyond the team’s on-court performance during his tenure, there have been questions about the program’s internal turmoil as well. A lawsuit filed by former St. John’s basketball coach Steve DeMeo in 2021 alleged that Anderson lost control of the team at the end of the 2020-21 season. “The public success of the St. John’s men’s basketball team on the court masked a tumultuous end to the season,” the suit stated. “Mr. Anderson lost control of the team and the players nearly revolted against him before the end of the season.”

At the time, the University categorically denied all allegations of wrongdoing, but declined to further comment on the pending litigation.

This season, Anderson issued multiple suspensions to St. John’s players for “not adhering to team standards.” Junior guard Andre Curbelo was suspended twice and did not travel with the team for one of their away games and sophomore guard Raphael Pinzon is currently indefinitely suspended. When Curbelo was asked why he wasn’t playing, he told reporters he didn’t know. Anderson declined to provide additional comment on the suspensions as well.

St. John’s President Brian Shanley, who has expressed his displeasure with the program’s on-court performance, told The Torch that he was “completely committed right now” to helping Anderson be successful in a January 2023 interview. However, he added that “we have to figure out how to win more games.”

Shanley hired Ed Cooley as the head coach of Providence while he was serving as the school’s president, and considered hiring Pitino for that job years ago.

Pitino was also a candidate for the St. John’s job before Anderson was hired. But in the years since, Pitino was cleared of any wrongdoing at Louisville by the Independent Review Panel of the Independent Accountability Resolution Process. The panel found that “no violation by [Pitino] occurred given that he demonstrated he promoted an atmosphere of compliance” in Louisville’s corruption case, that led to their national title being vacated.

With Pitino in the clear and a high-major job at St. John’s open, the next Red Storm Men’s Basketball coach might already be in New York.

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About the Contributor
Brady Snyder, Editor-in-Chief
Brady is a senior journalism student currently serving as Editor-in-Chief. He joined The Torch in 2021, and previously served as Sports Editor. Outside of The Torch, Brady covers consumer technology and new innovations for ScreenRant, where he has nearly 100 published articles. When he isn’t writing, Brady is usually running or catching a sporting event. Brady can be reached at [email protected]

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    Phil KonigsbergMar 11, 2023 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you for a very comprehensive article on the St. John’s men’s basketball program surrounding the parting ways with former head basketball coach Mike Anderson.

    As an added benefit, the article provided me with the most information I’ve been able to find regarding the suspensions of Andre Curbelo and Raphael Pinzon.

    Excellent work.

    Phil Konigsberg
    Sports Editor, The Torch
    Early 1970’s

    Reply
    • P

      Phil KonigsbergMar 11, 2023 at 8:22 pm

      Somehow the time stamp on my comment is incorrect. I submitted the above comment at 7:15 PM (before the clocks move forward in a few hours).

      Reply