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St. John’s AD Chris Monasch moves on

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The tenure of D1 ADs is sometimes quantified by the number of presidents and not the number of years.   The ClipsTruthSquad doesn’t know which this one is.

multiple sources, 5-29-15


Readers please note: This posting is a slightly revised version of a riveting and award-worthy Clips eFlash that was bulk emailed to the vast immensity of the Clips subscribership.  The eFlash was sent out on Friday 5-29-15 at 10:05am ET.


Greetings from the Clips MotherShip.  Hope you are well.

This morning’s news includes word of the departure of veteran D1 AD Chris Monasch, in his 9th year at St. John’s (Big East).  This departure has been officially described as a "resignation” but not many people are buying that cover story.

St. John’s—of course—is a high profile basketball school, with decades of rich Big East supremacy with the cagey Lou Carnesecca as the iconic New York City coach in the multi-colored sweaters.  For many years St. John’s had the hearts and sentiments of almost the entire metro New York area largely to themselves.  However, when the Big East hit full stride (mid 90s), schools like Syracuse, UConn and Seton Hall started to syphon away some of those Metro New York fans.

Fast forward…. Carnesecca resigned, the Big East morphed into the not-so-Big East (actually a good thing) and former UCLA coach Steve Lavin was hired in at St. John’s ….and . . . 10 months ago, Conrado "Bobby” Gempesaw was appointed President of St. John’s University.  Gempesaw is a first-time president, having been an administrator at Miami (Ohio) and the University of Delaware for the previous three decades.  He grew up in the Philippines, and earned his bachelor’s degree there.  Then he was off to the USA.

We have all inherited new bosses, and that first meeting with the new boss can be uncomfortable.  I do not know what that was like (a year ago) when Chris Monasch met this rookie president.  But now we know how it ended.

With all apologies for the several dozen ADs out there who have been Clips subscribers for 7-8-9 years, I am compelled—once again, for the two-dozenth time, with repetition, ad nauseum, and so on and on—to remind us all of the sometimes starkly bleak and unyielding tenets of D1 AD hiring and firing (er, "resignations”).

Here goes (the following tenets have been selected with the St. John’s "personnel change” in mind):

  • The boss is the boss.  He/she is in charge.  He/she calls the shots.
  • The boss is the boss.  He/she is in charge.  He/she calls the shots.  (I know, I already said that.  But it bears repeating repeating).
  • If the boss is coming into a new school with a weak background in big-time college sports, then it is incumbent upon the AD to educate that president quickly, comprehensively and patiently, even if the president does not want to hear it.
  • Regardless of the labor laws that exist in their state of employment, D1 ADs should always consider themselves "at will” employees.
  • ADs should negotiate their exit details with as much emphasis as their compensation details.
  • ADs should not obsess over what seems like a raw deal when they are forced to resign.  Presidents have dozens of aspects of the university in their responsibility cluster, and athletics—although very visible—is really a small part of that cluster (esp. for non-FB schools).
  • ADs should develop a knack for "reading tea leaves” . . . . if the president takes a liking to a particular idea, coach, donor, whatever, then the AD should try to talk him/her out of those cockamamie notions, and if you can’t, then maybe the "emperor” does have clothes after all.


St. John’s is located in Queens, NY, some 46 miles due east of the MotherShip.  Two months ago your Clips Editor attended the press conference for new basketball coach Chris Mullin (the former St. John’s star, and a native New Yorker).  It was more like a coronation than a press conference.  See my Clips Eyewitness Report below.

Have a good Friday.


Nick Infante, Clips Editor



AD’s departure paves way for Mullin’s man at St. John’s

By Zach Braziller and Howie Kussoy

NY Post, 5-28-15


St. John’s and athletic director Chris Monasch parted ways Thursday afternoon, marking the latest major change in an athletic department that looks vastly different than it did only two months ago.

Though the school announced — in a statement — that Monasch resigned after nine years as athletic director, it is believed he was forced out for a variety of reasons, including upsetting one of the school’s most famous alums, PGA golfer Keegan Bradley. Monasch, selected by former president Rev. Donald J. Harrington to run the athletic program in 2005, was at Yankees Stadium on Wednesday when new coach Chris Mullin threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

"We appreciate the many contributions that Chris has made to St. John’s University particularly to our athletics program,” St. John’s president said Conrado "Bobby” Gempesaw said in a statement. "He has provided leadership to ensure the success of our student-athletes both on and off the field of play. He is a strong supporter of St. John’s ‘Win, Graduate, Serve’ philosophy, which has strengthened the foundation for the continued success of St. John’s 108-year athletic history.”

Monach’s departure doesn’t come as much of a surprise, multiple sources told The Post. When basketball coach Steve Lavin left, and was replaced by Mullin, Monasch’s days were numbered. He was a Lavin supporter.

The leading candidate to replace him is believed to be Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro, sources told The Post. D’Alessandro, of Bohemia, N.Y., attended St. John’s and was a video coordinator under Hall of Famer Lou Carnesecca and remains close to both Mullin and Carnesecca.

D’Alessandro, who began working with the Kings in 2004 and was named their general manager in 2013, had seen his role in the Sacramento front office diminish when Vlade Divac was hired as vice president in March.

A source said Mullin is pushing for D’Alessandro, the former’s boss when he was an advisor with the Kings, to come back to Queens.

Under Monasch’s leadership, St. John’s athletic profile rose considerably. The school made several important improvements in their facilities, such as a multi-phase renovation of Carnesecca Arena and upgrades to Belson Stadium, and Jack Kaiser Stadium, home to the soccer and baseball teams, respectively. There were also new partnerships with IMG College, Under Armour and he helped launch the St. John’s Television Network (SJU-TV) in conjunction with ESPN3.

But Monasch also had his mistakes, including firing golf coach Frank Darby and angering Bradley so much he took the St. John’s logo off his PGA tour bag. Bradley was also reportedly upset Darby, who led St. John’s to the 2014 Big East title, wasn’t replaced by his former teammate, Casey Calmi, but instead by former St. John’s golfer Mal Galletta III.

"I’m pretty disappointed with the school,” Bradley told in March. "Chris Monasch doesn’t really care about the golf team. He never did when I was there at least.”

There was also the 2012 scandal in which his top lieutenant, Brian Colleary, was fired for scalping men’s basketball tickets obtained through the school and pocketing the Cash.



Chris Monasch out as St. John's athletic director

By GREG LOGAN, Newsday, 5-28-15

The transformation of the St. John's athletic department that began with the hiring of Chris Mullin in April continued with the resignation Thursday of Chris Monasch as athletic director effective June 30, the school announced.

Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro, a Red Storm alum and a close associate of Mullin's, is a strong candidate to be named as Monasch's successor, according to sources.

Multiple sources said negotiations with Monasch for his exit began after the basketball season ended. Monasch was closely aligned with former basketball coach Steve Lavin and urged the school to extend his contract, but he was overruled by St. John's president Conrado "Bobby" Gempesaw, who hired Mullin and ultimately made the decision to replace Monasch.

"We appreciate the many contributions that Chris has made to St. John's University, particularly to our athletic program," Gempesaw said in a statement. "We wish him well in his future endeavors."

A St. John's spokesman said a national search for the sixth athletic director in school history will begin immediately. D'Alessandro, 46, a graduate of Connetquot High in Bohemia, immediately became the focus of speculation because of his close ties to Mullin and former coach Lou Carnesecca.

D'Alessandro got his start in athletics administration as a student at St. John's from 1986 to 1990, when he served as video coordinator under Carnesecca. He later earned a law degree and worked in politics before joining a Washington-based sports agency in 1997.

In 2004, he was hired as director of basketball operations for the Golden State Warriors by Mullin, who was executive vice president of basketball operations for the Warriors at the time. D'Alessandro reportedly has been supplanted by Vlade Divac as the Kings' top basketball executive.

If D'Alessandro is the choice for AD, it would give Mullin, who was working as an adviser in player personnel for Sacramento when he accepted the St. John's job, a trusted partner in overhauling the basketball program. Mullin previously was successful in luring top assistants Barry Rohrssen from Kentucky and Matt Abdelmassih from Iowa State to head up recruiting. Abdelmassih also is a St. John's alum and Rohrssen is a Brooklyn native who has been a long-time confidant of Mullin's.

In addition to being identified with the five-year Lavin era, Monasch didn't help himself when he alienated former PGA champion Keegan Bradley, a high-profile supporter of Red Storm athletics, by firing longtime golf coach Frank Darby, who coached Bradley. Gempesaw was said to be upset about the rift with a key donor in Bradley, but a source said that was not a factor in the ouster of Monasch, who was hired in 2005.

"I want to thank all of the coaches, administrators and staff for the support they gave to assist our student-athletes in achieving so much over the last decade," Monasch said in the statement. "I look forward to the next chapter in my career and wish my good friends at St. John's much success in the future."



Clips Eyewitness Report, 4-2-15  . . . .  Press Conference for Chris Mullin, new St. John’s basketball coach

Dear << Test First Name >>-

"Those who can’t play, they coach.  Those who can’t coach, they referee.  Those who can’t ref, they spectate.”

Greetings from the CaliforniaShip.  Hope you are well.  I am writing this award-worthy Clips Eyewitness Report from seat 35-F on United Flight 1626.  I am on route to San Diego for a family gathering.

Yesterday I attended the press conference at St. John’s University in the pleasant New York City borough of Queens (the setting of the TV sit-com "King of Queens”).  My destination was the official announcement of the appointment of former star Chris Mullin as St. John’s 20th men's basketball coach.

For those of you who might not have noticed, your Clips Editor is not a "conventional” sportswriter.  Yes, like authentic sportswriters, I have attended many football and basketball media days.  And yes, I have attended dozens of men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football games.

But while bona fide sportswriters focus their attention on the game, the players and the coaches; I am more interested in talking with the Athletic Directors (and their staffs) and the Conference Commissioners (and their staffs).

I decided to attend the St. John’s event for a number of reasons: 1)- St. John’s is just a 1:15 drive from the MotherShip; 2)- I had never been to St. John’s before; 3)- St. John’s AD Chris Monasch is a 10-year Clips subscriber; 4)- I am a Big East / Lou Carnesecca / Chris Mullin fan from way back; 5)- I needed a break from recent website / database glitches and I figured a getaway would be good therapy.

And so, it was into the ClipsMobile and on to I-80 east, the George Washington Bridge, Cross Bronx Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, Union Turnpike, and—presto—there I was.


A Coronation?

I have never been to a coronation.  From movies I’ve seen, coronations are majestically orchestrated ceremonies, with rigid foot soldiers wearing tall hats with squiggles on them, horns blaring regally, long red carpets and people bowing and comporting themselves in a very respectful manner.  The invited glitterati are festooned in their Sunday best, with shiny smiles and sunburnt teeth  . . . .

When I walked into St. John’s Carnesecca Arena, a meticulously preserved 1961 vintage  on-campus gymnasium, I was impressed by the turnout (it looked like about a thousand people?) and the palpable air of a coronation.  There were about 200 media members, school officials, former players and invited guests on the floor of the gym, plus another 800 or so fans/alumni/passersby, about 90% of whom were garbed in the striking Ferrari red colors of St. John’s.


The Promised Land

Even if one did not know the history of St, John’s basketball, one could not help but to have noticed the relief, the anticipation and the hopefulness of all the gathered Johnnies.  It sure looked like this would be the start of the end of all the years of fair-to-middling non-competitiveness.

This was storybook stuff . . . .  One of St. John’s best-ever—51-year old Chris Mullin—a crown prince, was coming home to lead them back to the Promised Land of dogfight games in a packed Madison Square Garden versus the best of the Big East.  Who says you can never go back? 


Big East History is New York History?

Because there are so many young Clips readers unaware of Chris Mullin, Lou Carnesecca and Joe Lapchick, it is now time for a quick roundball history lesson. 

There was a time, when FDR was president, that basketball was an oddity of a sport…an afterthought to hockey rink/gyms up and down the east coast.  There was no pro basketball league and college basketball was a very distant second to college football.

One of the best teams in that era was the traveling Celtics (aka: the Original Celtics) and one of their best players was Joe Lapchick (yes, father of Richard Lapchick).  Fast forward to the 30s and 40s and Joe Lapchick became the St. John’s coach, and they won the national championship in 1943 and 1944 (this was when the NIT overshadowed the NCAA tournament).

Them were the days  . . . .

The launch of the Big East in 1979 ushered in a two decade era of national dominance in which (in alphabetical order) Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Syracuse, Villanova and UConn alternated as the hottest team in any given year.


To be a coach

The first two decades of the Big East were the last two decades of Lou Carnesecca's storied career.  His colorful sweaters belied the effective and excitable coaching style that squeezed every last bit of yield from his players.

Carnesecca retired in 1992 with 526 wins and 200 losses, with his best season coming in 1984-85 when St. John’s went 31-4 and made it to the Final Four.




After Lou retired a series of forgettable coaches took turns reducing St. John's to mawkish mediocrity: Brian Maloney, Fran Fraschilla, Mike Jarvis, Norm Roberts and—until a couple weeks ago—Steve Lavin.

Sometimes former star players do not make the best coaches.  Sometimes they do.

I think Chris Mullin can become as much a star coach as he was a star player.  Maybe he'll become the new King of Queens?


You heard it here first.


Nick Infante, Clips Editor



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