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St. John's not looking to replace Chris Mullin as head coach, athletic director says

The goal of the statement may have been to quell speculation that St. John's could part ways with its biggest star and favorite son.

Head coach Chris Mullin of the St. John's

Head coach Chris Mullin of the St. John's Red Storm reacts during the first half against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the First Four of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at UD Arena on March 20 in Dayton, Ohio. Credit: Getty Images/Gregory Shamus

St. John’s issued a statement Saturday morning in which athletic director Mike Cragg said the school is not actively seeking to replace Chris Mullin as its head coach.

“Let me be clear and I said from the start, Coach Mullin is our head coach and we are not looking for another head coach,” Cragg said in the statement.

The program has experienced some tumult in recent days. Star guard Shamorie Ponds declared for the NBA Draft on March 28. Assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih, Mullin’s top recruiter, left to take a position at Nebraska on April 1. Cam Mack, a point guard St. John’s signed out of Salt Lake CC, asked to be released from his commitment Friday.

The goal of the statement may have been to quell speculation that St. John’s could part ways with its biggest star and favorite son. Whether it will accomplish that is uncertain. Mullin is not quoted in the statement.

Mullin is 59-73 in four seasons, has two years left on his contract and is at the point that schools typically offer an extension to convey stability to recruits. Asked about an extension the day after the Red Storm lost to Arizona State in the NCAA Tournament, Cragg told Newsday, “I don’t think it’s necessary in this era with the college culture so fluid.”

St. John’s finished the season 21-13, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015 and the first time since Mullin became coach. It also reached the national rankings for the first time since the 2014-15 season, at No. 24 on Jan. 15. The Red Storm dropped four of their last five in the regular season, suffered their worst loss of the season to Marquette in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals and was the final pick for the NCAA field. They have finished under .500 in Big East play four straight seasons.

Cragg said in the statement that he and Mullin have had several meetings since the end of the season, calling them “engaging and positive,” and added that in assessing how to take the program forward, Mullin “has been great throughout.”

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