Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Despite announcing in February that St. John’s head coach Norm Roberts would be given a contract extension, no deal has yet been struck.
“We’re still working on all those details,” St. John’s athletic director Chris Monasch said Thursday night during a panel discussion at the NFL offices in midtown Manhattan.
Monasch in February said Roberts would return next season to finish his current contract, and that an extension would be pursued.
“He has a rolling five-year contract, so he really has a long-term contract,” Monasch said Thursday.
He added: “What we’re going to do is kind of update the contract. There were aspects of the contract that had become dated, built-in bonuses and different triggers if he’s successful that he would be properly rewarded with.”
The Red Storm went 9-18 in Roberts’ first season, 12-15 in his second, 16-15 in his third and 11-19 this past season. St. John’s is 20-46 in the Big East during that time.
Roberts in February said he appreciated Monasch’s support.
“We’ve been getting great support all the way through,” Roberts told the AP in February. “Obviously they felt they had to say something publicly, which I very much appreciate. They understand what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and they see the upside of our talent and that we’re not that far away playing in a tough league.”
With the recent announcement that three-point shooter Larry Wright and reserve guard Mike Cavataio would transfer, 10 of the 22 players Roberts has recruited have transferred, been dismissed or left the program, according to the Daily News. All the members of his third recruiting class will not finish with the team.
“I think the reality of Division I basketball is there’s a fairly high transfer rate, but it’s the totality of what happens,” Monasch said. “IF too many of the wrong players transfer, that’s not positive. So I think we have to see who we bring in this recruiting season and how the players mature and develop.
“Hopefully the seven or eight freshmen that we have this year are the core of our future,” he added. “And I think it’s very important that they mature and develop, and clearly there are a number of additional parts that have to be added to it hopefully this recruiting season which is going on right now, and if not next year.”
While Rutgers and Seton Hall both locked up players during the early signing period, St. John’s did not land a single commit last November. The Red Storm missed out on several targets, including Sylven Landesberg (Virginia), Mookie Jones (Syracuse) and Kevin Jones (West Virginia), all three of whom played prep ball in New York State.
Monasch said he thought part of the failure in landing recruits in the fall had been uncertainty over Roberts’ status.
The late signing period runs until May 21 and St. John’s does not appear to be in the mix for any major available players after Florida transfer Jonathan Mitchell pulled out on Friday and decided Rutgers and Seton Hall were his final two options. St. John’s has four scholarships available and Monasch said “a number of athletes” would be on campus this week and next week, adding “I think we’ll see something happen in the next few days.”
Roberts was an assistant at Kansas when he took over at St. John’s following the 2003-04 season, when MIke Jarvis was fired in December and Kevin Clark finished the season as interim coach. St. John’s just finished a two-year probation for NCAA violations from that time.
“The mindset in hiring Norm at the time was they felt he was the best fit for the job,” Monasch said. “The range of what you can pay people doesn’t fluctuate as greatly as if you’re successful. IF you’re successful, you can spend a lot of money on a basketball coach.
“I think being patient with Norm is an outcome of how low the program had been and all the things we’ve been through, but there is an urgency to win at St. John’s.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.