St. John’s announced the hiring of Joe Tartamella as the eighth women’s basketball head coach to replace Kim Barnes Arico in a press conference Friday morning.
“Joe has spent the last nine years as Coach Barnes Arico’s right hand person,” Director of Athletics, Chris Monasch said. “He has been an integral part of the evolution of our program to national prominence. Along with many others in the women’s basketball world, we see Joe as a rising star and strongly believe he will maintain and build on the success of recent years.”
Tartamella has been a part of Kim Barnes-Arico’s staff since 2002, when he took the role of Graduate Assistant. He worked his way up within the program until he became the associate head coach in 2008.
“It has been a dream come true for me to accept the opportunity St. John’s has offered,” Tartamella said. “I am excited and grateful to be able to make my start as head coach at such a tradition-filled and successful program. Since I have been here, I have seen first hand the willingness the University has shown to continue to make women’s basketball a priority at this school.”
During his time as an assistant, St. John’s advanced to four NCAA tournament, nine Big East tournaments and two Women’s National Invitational Tournaments. Many of the members of the women’s team were in attendance at the press conference to show their support.
Monasch said that dozens of people were consulted, including men’s associate head coach Mike Dunlap during the hiring process. The athletics department’s goal was to continue moving forward from the successes that occurred under Barnes-Arico.
“I didn’t want to see any steps taken backwards from where we have been,” Tartamella said. “I think I can bring that continuity, that trust that we need, to stay where we are and able to maintain the level of our program right now.”
When there is a change of leadership within a program, recruiting is one of the issues that arise. Recruits can be inclined to re-think decisions based on these changes. Tartamella believes that this will not be an issue at St. John’s.
“The things that we have accomplished, the things we have in place from a facilities standpoint, are attractive to any prospective student athlete in the country,” he said. “They get a chance to play at Madison Square Garden, they get a chance to be on that big stage. We have the opportunity, for the first time in this school’s history, to host an NCAA tournament first round next year. Those are the kind of things and that is the direction that we’re going especially as a program and a university.”
Following the departure of Barnes-Arico, a period of uncertainty is expected. With the hiring of Tartamella from within the program, the administration feels secure that they have the right pieces to build for the future.
“This is the best time to be here,” said Tartamella. “There is no better time to be at St. John’s. We are thriving.”