The search to find a new basketball coach at St. John's appears to have taken a break for the weekend slate of NCAA Tournament games. Boston College coach Al Skinner remains high in contention for the job, with financial matters said to be the main issue after discussions on Friday.
Skinner isn't talking, but from their Massachusetts home, his wife, Donna, said, "Stay tuned."
Someone familiar with the situation said Skinner would not have engaged in the interview process with St. John's if he did not think he was the Red Storm's top candidate.
For example, Tom Pecora, who was hired by Fordham this past week, effectively became the Fordham coach the moment athletic director Frank McLaughlin called Hofstra to seek permission for an interview. Pecora set those parameters. In turn, Fordham wanted to make sure Pecora would accept the job before inviting him to tour the campus.
That desired scenario took a detour for St. John's in the pursuit of Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt. Permission was granted to speak with Hewitt before St. John's learned of the coach's desire to remain at his school. Hewitt did not stay in the conversation long enough to get a contract offer.
An official request also was made to speak with Skinner. If the sides cannot agree financially, expect Skinner to withdraw his name. St. John's will not put him in the position of being rejected.
"Athletic directors usually want to know [if a coach] is interested so that they don't get, quote, 'turned down,' " an athletic official in the ACC said, adding tongue-in-cheek: "I have been taught you never offer the job to anybody until you have them standing next to you before the press conference is to begin. That way you've never gotten turned down. Any time you have a coach in a high-powered program or high-powered league where the recruiting is always impacted, if they [the school] are going to make the call, they [the coach] want to know they have it before they get there."
St. John's continues not to comment on its search process, which could include more interviews in case a deal with Skinner cannot be reached.