Steve Lavin Is Head SJU Basketball Coach
St. John’s University, reeling from five less than stellar seasons under former head basketball coach Norm Roberts, has made a move to regain its basketball prominence by hiring Steve Lavin as the team’s 19th head basketball coach. Lavin comes to the Red Storm after 15 years as assistant and head basketball coach at both UCLA and Purdue University and most recently an ABC and ESPN sports analyst. His resume includes six NCAA Tournament appearances, including five nods for the Sweet 16 in his seven seasons with UCLA. Under his coaching the Bruins also won 21 or more games during six of his seven-year tenure there.
St. John’s University Director of Athletics Chris Monasch made the official announcement of the hiring on Tuesday, March 30, but the college waited another day to call the press together to meet their new man. “Today is the start of a new era in the venerable history of St. John’s basketball,” Monasch said on March 31. “Steve brings the skill set and persona that we feel gives us a chance to compete at the highest level in the Big East.”
Former St. John’s head men’s basketball coach, 85-year-old Lou Carnesecca, agreed. “This is a great day for St John’s. Look at the crowd. You’d think they’re givin’ something away. There is no doubt in my mind [Lavin] will do a good job.”
St. John’s president the Rev. Donald J. Harrington concurred that hiring Lavin was the right move to turn things around for the university and the basketball program. “We are pleased to have a coach with the distinguished career and success of Steve Lavin take over our men’s basketball program,” President Harrington said. “My timetable was to let Chris [Monasch] take as much time as he needed to make a good decision.”
“I want to compliment St. John’s on a heck of a hiring––Steve Lavin,” NIT Board Chairman C.M. Newton said at the NIT finals at Madison Square Garden on April 1.
St. John’s has more records and tournament appearances than any other New York college or university and has the seventh all-time, most-wins basketball program in NCAA Division I history. The Red Storm has amassed a record of 1,703 wins and 884 losses. That adds up to a .658 winning percentage and makes SJU the ninth all-time in NCAA annals. SJU has also made 26 NIT appearances and has five NIT titles under its belt.
As the top basketball man at UCLA, Lavin had a career record of 145-78 and has been credited with leading the Bruins to six consecutive 21-win seasons. While at UCLA, Lavin and Mike Krzyzewski from Duke led their teams to five NCAA regional semifinal games (Sweet 16s) in six years, ’02, ’01, ’00, ’99, ’98, and ‘97.
Lavin has big plans for St. John’s. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime, to be able to return to the sidelines coaching college basketball at a school like St. John’s that has such tradition and heritage in terms of history of basketball,” Lavin said.
Mary Ann Jarou, the actress wife of the new St. John’s University head men’s basketball coach and a native of Flint, Michigan, is very happy with the move from Hollywood to Broadway. She began taking film classes while a sports medicine major at Michigan State University. “I was one of those kids that just tried everything,” she said.
Jarou appeared in commercials and films with Sally Field and Val Kilmer while living in Los Angeles.