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.
One New Jersey Big East coach lost his job, and the other managed to hold on to his.
On the same day that Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti endorsed Fred Hill as the Rutgers basketball coach going forward, Seton Hall fired Bobby Gonzalez.
“Performance and success are not measured solely by wins and losses, but also in the conduct of those associated with the program,” Pat Hobbs, Dean of the Seton Hall Law School, said in a statement. “We have expectations as to how our coaches and players will conduct themselves, and they are expected to treat everyone they interact with, whether officials, the press or our students, with the utmost respect, maturity and professionalism. Those core expectations must be met.”
University President Monsignor Robert Sheeran added: “It is essential that all University leaders embody the ideals that make us all so proud of Seton Hall.”
Seton Hall is holding a 2 p.m. conference call to announce the decision.
The decision to remove Gonzalez after his fourth season came shortly after the team’s embarrassing loss Tuesday night to Texas Tech in the NIT and was the result of a pattern of off-the-court issues associated with the team.Gonzalez last fall agreed to a three-year contract extension through 2015, but reportedly never signed the paperwork.
The latest incident involved a series of below-the-belt punches by sophomore forward Herb Pope, who was given a flagrant foul and ejected from the Texas Tech game in the first half.
“Man, I never got someone even knee me that hard in a practice by accident. He just took a swing,” said Texas Tech’s Darko Cohadarevic. “I just couldn’t breathe for a second.”
Later in the game, after Gonzalez received his seventh technical foul of the season, chants of “Fire Bob-by” rose from the student section
The Pope incident was the latest, and last, in a bizarre year for Seton Hall. Junior forward Robert “Stix” Mitchell was booted from the team two days before the NIT after he criticized Gonzalez’s substitution patterns in the Bergen Record during last week’s Big East Tournament. Mitchell, a Brooklyn native, has a year of eligibility remaining but Gonzalez ended his career early, saying he didn’t “want any malcontent or cancerous type stuff.”
Lawrence was suspended on Nov. 9 following his involvement in a wrong-way car crash on the Garden State Parkway. Lawrence, 22, was reinstated Dec. 19., and subsequently charged with auto-by-assault and driving with a suspended license.
Despite stating that his goal was to reach the NCAA tournament, Gonzalez’s season ended in an 87-69 loss to Texas Tech in the first round of the NIT.
After the game, Gonzalez was seen walking the hallways of the Prudential Center talking about how his team “beat Rutgers twice and St. John’s once.”
Gonzalez was also the subject of a recent hard-hitting New York Times article that covered many of his past transgressions and painted him in highly unflattering light.
The essence of the story was that Gonzalez had built his current team on high-risk, low-character transfer players, such as Lawrence, Pope and Jeff Robinson.
Asked if he agreed with that assessment, Villanova coach Jay Wright said, “I think [Gonzalez] did what he thought was best for Seton Hall. I really did. I don’t think he purposely went and got risky kids. I think he did what he thought was best for Seton Hall. I really do.”
While Gonzalez is now out of a job, Hill will hold on to his.
“Fred Hill is under contract as our men’s basketball head coach. We had a productive meeting and look forward to working together to build the program,” Pernetti announced in a statement Wednesday.
Hill has compiled a 47-77 record over four years — including a 15-17 mark this season — and has received increased heat from a frustrated fan base.
Yet it would have cost the University about $1.5 million to buy Hill out, and the school opted to let him remain.
According to The Star-Ledger, Hill picks up an additional $300,000 for returning and also gets a $100,000 bonus for remaining at Rutgers after April 5. His guaranteed outside income also increases to $400,000 from $300,000 for the last two years of the three he has remaining.
Told that Hill would be staying, Wright said, “Oh, great. Oh, good. Good.”
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.