St. John’s fires Mike Anderson after four seasons, Rick Pitino emerges as primary candidate to lead Red Storm

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St. John’s has fired men’s head basketball coach Mike Anderson, the school announced on Friday. Anderson was fired on the heels of the Red Storm’s loss to Marquette in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament. The team went 19-15 this season. Anderson has been a head coach for 21 seasons and never finished below .500. 

“After fully evaluating the men’s basketball program, our University has decided a change is needed in both the leadership and direction of St. John’s Basketball,” athletic director Mike Cragg said in a statement. “We wish Coach Mike Anderson and his family the best in their future.”

Additionally, sources told CBS Sports that Iona coach Rick Pitino has been the Red Storm’s primary target to take over for Anderson. St. John’s president Rev. Brian Shanley has been leading the charge to lure Pitino away from Iona and is prepared to offer the 70-year-old Hall of Famer a hefty contract to bring him aboard, sources said. Pitino’s name is linked to the opening at Georgetown as well. As one source indicated on Friday, it’s reached the stage where Pitino leaving Iona feels inevitable — it’s just a matter of which school gets him.  

CBS Sports Exclusive: With his name cleared, Rick Pitino must make a choice to stay at Iona or take one more shot at a big-time job

Anderson leaves after four years with SJU holding a 69-56 record. His teams finished eighth, fourth, seventh and eighth in the Big East ledger. He failed to lead the program to one NCAA Tournament appearance during his tenure. 

Sources said Anderson’s contract stipulates that firing him now means St. John’s owes him more than $10 million, and in recent weeks a significant portion of that money has been rallied by select boosters who have been working with Shanley to help lure a big name — such as the aforementioned Pitino — to the job.  

Like Georgetown — another drowsy, former power of the Big East — St. John’s is a program in desperate need of a reset and new life as the Red Storm haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2000. 

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