Today, Chris Mullin announced that he was stepping down as St. John’s basketball coach after four seasons at the helm. Jon Rothstein first broke the news that Mullin was leaving last night. Mullin cited “a recent personal” loss in his resignation statement (his older brother died of cancer in March), and he will leave the Red Storm with two years and $4 million left on his contract. He will reportedly be bought out of his deal.
Mullin never lived up to expectations in Queens, going just 20-52 in Big East play and never advancing past the First Four of the NCAA Tournament. However, last year, the Red Storm won 21 games—tied for the most since 1999-00—and reached the postseason for the first time in Mullin’s tenure. His lackluster record in conference play is certainly a factor in his departure, though a rift within the St. John’s athletic department seems to have been just as impactful.
The rift reportedly opened up last summer, when Mullin wanted to hire disgraced former Rutgers coach Mike Rice as an assistant. School president Bobby Gempesaw turned him down, fearing a PR shitstorm for St. John’s. Gempesaw, who was the force behind Mullin getting the job in the first place, then hired Cragg last September. For the first time in Mullin’s tenure at St. John’s, he had to answer to someone else besides Gempesaw.