Go Red Storm!

I’ve written about football several times lately, thanks to the Super Bowl and all, but I have a quick note today about basketball.

I’ve never been much of a basketball guy, although I’m watching a lot more hoops these days because my 11-year-old loves it.

I was driving home from an assignment yesterday and was listening to Michael Kay’s show on ESPN radio. Yeah, I like sports talk radio. I miss Mike and the Mad Dog on WFAN and really like Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN. Kay’s real good on the Yanks.

Anyway, Kay was talking about how far St. John’s basketball has fallen since its heyday in 1985, when the team made the NCAA’s Final Four. I know you don’t hear much about St. John’s basketball these days, but I didn’t realize the team had fallen on consistently hard times.

A lot of St. John’s alumni called up. Sure, they’d had it with the team’s coach, Norm Roberts.

d0872a0f3a8e4a8ba9672bda852b157fBut many were also calling out St. John’s president, Father Donald Harrington, a Vincentian priest who has run the university since 1989. Skimming the guy’s bio, it seems that he has done quite a lot for the school.

But callers were complaining that Harrington is unwilling to pay a coach about $5 million a year, as several basketball powerhouses do. Roberts makes about $600,000.

I couldn’t help feeling bad for Harrington, a priest I’ve never met.

You have to figure that St. John’s, like every other college, is hurting financially. They’re probably trying to hold tuition down so that students can afford to attend. And it’s a Catholic school, with a presumably religious mission.

ab1347880a5d4fdcb35ab5b443deb258Just a couple of weeks ago, Harrington gave Archbishop Dolan an honorary doctorate.

Harrington said:

*****

I had the pleasure, in a sense, of watching the State of the Union Address earlier this week. It was very striking to me how often one side stands and the other side doesn’t. Very rarely does that audience, which is typical, stand together. Tonight, both figuratively and literally, we stand together with no hesitation – because in each individual (honored) we see the face, the vision and the heart of St. Vincent de Paul himself.

*****

And yet, Harrington may face the choice of having to spend millions on a big-name coach to keep his team competitive — or risk the displeasure of alumni and the New York media.

I’ve never rooted for a college hoops team (except on rare occasions when I’ve filled out a March Madness sheet — to miserable results).

But, as of today, I’m rooting for St. John’s.

Hey, we beat Louisville yesterday!

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.