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Anton Goff has high hopes for St. John’s athletics

Anton Goff, hired by St. John’s to fill its long-vacant athletic director position, arrived on campus Monday with a measure of experience and a wealth of optimism. “We’re going to win here, we’re going to win the right way,” he said, adding that he expects the university’s teams to shoot for national championships.

“This isn’t just about returning to the glory days of the ’80s when St. John’s was on top,” he said during an introductory news conference before the Red Storm men’s basketball team’s home game against Binghamton. “This is about taking St. John’s to a whole other level that we’ve never seen before. I’m talking about winning Big East championships, I’m talking about competing for national championships. That’s what we’re going to be about.”

Having been around athletics his entire life — his mother Alfreeda was the AD at Virginia Commonwealth — Goff comes to St. John’s after spending more than two years as director of athletics at the University of Hartford. He replaces Chris Monasch, who resigned in May 2015 amid reports that the university forced him out.

Goff said he has had positive initial conversations with basketball coach and school legend Chris Mullin and plans to meet with all of the other coaches soon. The new athletic director said he would like to see 90 percent of the university’s student-athletes graduate and to have seven of the 17 squads win Big East titles. “Four should be able to compete on a national level,” he said.

“I’ve been in this business a very long time. I’ve been around it my whole life. I’ve been at some great places: Michigan State, Maryland, Hartford. I’ve learned a lot. I think I can bring some of those qualities here. I got into this business because I want to help young people and I love athletics.”

He will travel to other schools in the conference to compare facilities, seeing where the Red Storm must improve. Goff, a former wider receiver at Bowling Green who has had administrative positions at Maryland and Michigan State among several other universities, developed a reputation as a solid fund-raiser at Hartford.

“You can never have enough money. I was at power five conferences and we always talked about how we needed more money. I’m sure that’s the case here and that’s the case around the country,” he said.

Members of the search committee and St. John’s top officials were impressed with Goff’s resume, personality and energy. “Within the first five minutes, I knew he would be our choice,” university president Conrado (Bobby) Gempesaw said.

Goff promised to learn all about the St. John’s culture and history. Among the people to whom he intends to talk is Keegan Bradley, the former PGA champion and the most accomplished golfer in St. John’s history. Bradley had a falling out with the school — removing the logo from his golf bag — after Monasch fired his former coach Frank Darby, and not replacing him with Bradley’s former teammate Casey Calmi.

“Absolutely. I’m going to reach out to him,” Goff said. “I’m going to reach out to every alum, I’m going to do a huge thank you campaign for everybody who has given, who has continued to give. And anybody who used to be involved, I’m going to reach out to them and try to bring them back into the fold. It’s a new day, it’s a new era. I’m looking forward to connecting Red Storm Nation together.”

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