St. John's general counsel Joseph Oliva was appointed interim athletic director on Tuesday by university president Conrado Gempesaw. For the past two years, Oliva had oversight responsibility for the department of athletics, and he played a key role in the hiring of basketball coach Chris Mullin in April.

"I am most appreciative of Joe's willingness to assume this interim leadership role as the university continues its search for a permanent athletic director," Gempesaw said in a statement.

Former athletic director Chris Monasch, who wanted to extend the contract of Steve Lavin rather than hire Hall of Famer Mullin, resigned in May. Former Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro, a St. John's grad with ties to Mullin, was believed to be the leading AD candidate but accepted a front-office position with the Denver Nuggets.

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Oliva, who also played a role in St. John's transition to the new Big East Conference, the league's partnership with Fox Sports and St. John's partnership with Under Armour apparel, has the experience to manage the athletic department's transition, as the hiring of Mullin and top recruiters Barry Rohrssen and Matt Abdelmassih shows.

"This is an exciting time for St. John's athletics and our university as a whole," Oliva said in the statement.