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Oh deer: Fairfield hires Sydney Johnson.

Chris Elsberry of the Connecticut Post just posted on his blog that Tigers head coach Sydney Johnson has accepted the coaching position at Fairfield.

Princeton Athletic Director Gary Walters confirms Johnson's resignation to ESPN.

The Daily Princetonian talked with Kareem Maddox this evening about the coaching change.

Here's a proper news story from the Connecticut Post.

The Fairfield AD's line of "he really wanted us and we really wanted him" does leave a sting.

The school has posted an official press release and will welcome Johnson on Wednesday at 11:00 am ET.

Princeton has countered with their own release here.

With Johnson joining the Stags, Princeton will now look to hire their fifth head coach in the last fifteen years.

Expect additional updates throughout the evening.

TigerHeel said,

April 4, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

I had a bad feeling about this and am interested to see Princeton's statement as to why they let Coach Johnson go.

Coco said,

April 4, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

Say it, Sydney, say it ain't so.

I knew we wouldn't be able to keep you around for long, but Fairfield?

If this is true, it is a very sad day for Princeton basketball. Say it ain't so!

Will Carry said,

April 4, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

I think this is absolutely crazy. To leave Princeton for a school in a major conference, or with higher profile program, or for big time money--that I would understand. But Fairfield? Are you kidding me? A school with almost no basketball history and zero national profile? In a conference no better than the Ivy league? How much money could they have possibly been offering?

Why not stay another season or two at Princeton and let your stock rise a bit more before making the switch? See if you can win an upset victory during the preseason or the first round of the tournament? I think there has to be something more to this. This is just too weird. I think this move is only slightly above Joe Scott's going to Denver.

Any thoughts Jon?

Jon Solomon said,

April 4, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

I am trying to put my thoughts together and hopefully I'll post something later tonight.

R.W. Enoch, Jr. said,

April 4, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

From looking at all the angles available to me, it seems like the writing is on the wall that Princeton is being outdone by Harvard, at least for the time being. Harvard is the strong favorite next year, and Sydney probably questioned his ability to keep winning against stronger and stronger recruiting classes from the Crimson over the next 2 years or so. There are probably some institutional issues at play regarding that fact, but lacking any inside information, I can't know for sure.

Coach J probably wanted to capitalize on 1 NCAA appearance to get the best possible gig he could elsewhere, where he now has the opportunity to continue winning with scholarship players. The stags did decently in the MAAC this year, so they could certainly go NCAA a few times in the next several years with Johnson at the helm. Then he'll really be getting the big time offers. Compare that with the prospect of only winning 1 or 2 more Ivy championships in the next 4 years staying at Princeton.

Princeton University should be ashamed of itself. If this kind of negative recruiting pressure is coming from Shirley Tilghman and Janet Rapelye, they're stupid. Low matriculation yield among admits is probably the #1 problem the University faces right now in terms of public image, and having a killer basketball team is one feasible way this school could improve its yield percentage.

Stuart Schulman said,

April 4, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

For the last hour or so, the Joe Jackson song "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" has been my earworm.

I hope this all works out for both Coach Johnson and for Princeton. Right now there is a lot of head scratching.

David Lewis said,

April 4, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

It's hard to be a Tiger basketball fan. I am mad at the university for letting him go but I'm also surpised that SJ would leave to take a job a Fairfield. How can he show so much emotion and love for Princeton two weeks ago and then leave for a program that is not as good as Princeton? So much for loyalty.
I certainly hope we stay within the Princeton fraternity for the next coach. Does Princeton hire Brian Earl or give somone like Mitch Henderson or Mike Brennan a shot?

Jim Waltman said,

April 4, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

I am really shocked and saddened by this. Fairfield? Makes me really wonder about Johnson's very emotional speeches after both the Harvard and Kentucky games. The "I love Princeton basketball" now seems like a signal that he was on his way out. Was he not getting recruits he wanted from the admissions office? Was the money really that much more--I guess we'll find out. But Fairfield? Could the University really have been out bid by Fairfield? No disrespect to these schools but will competing in the #16th ranked conference with the likes of Marist, Manhattan, Canisius, Niagra, etc. be a stronger career move than a few more years in the #15th ranked Ivy League? Will we have an announcement soon about the next coach? Hopefully Brian Earl.

Brian Martin said,

April 4, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

It is what it is. Good luck to Sydney.

John Poole said,

April 4, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

I am disgusted. Somebody dropped the ball ----badly. Just as we've recovered from the Joe Scott era this happens. I don't even know who I'm angry with. How is it possible that the University let this coach get away? Or did Sydney bail? How can you explain this to the players who worked so hard for the last few years? As a long time lover of Princeton basketball (as Sydney also claims to be) I feel betrayed. What happened?

Fairfield -- that is just plain ridiculous.

John Poole'69

Jack said,

April 4, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

I am so disgusted I cannot watch the National Championship game. Shame on Princeton if they didn't pay Sydney a competitive salary. Shame on Sydney for jumping on the first job that came up. Fairfield? Ridiculous! From your alma mater? Were all those humble words just a marketing strategy? The job wasn't done. The tears and hypocracy about commitment? What about loyalty to the kids you recruit? Disturbing on so many levels.

Coco said,

April 4, 2011 @ 10:38 pm

I am surprised at the rush to judgment and recriminations that have already been posted here about this move. While I too am perplexed and lament the very real loss of all that Sydney brought to this program as a coach these past four years, I will not assign blame as others have.

He has his reasons for leaving Princeton and for going to Fairfield, some personal, some professional, some familial. We all knew he'd move on eventually-- although few expected it to be so soon or for a school like Fairfield. It's his decision.

I suspect we will never really know all the reasons, since there seldom is full disclosure at Princeton, particularly vis a vis athletics.

Like other bitter losses in Princeton basketball, this one will gnaw at me for days. This is another tough loss to take.

P.S. For those who wonder about salary, check out this list from USA Today.

Princeton is among those schools not divulging their compensation.

David Lewis said,

April 4, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

I have now come in off the ledge. I think Princeton basketball will survive. Unlike many college programs, Princeton, as a system team, has many other candidates that can step in and do a great job. I imagine that after the new coach is named, continuity will be restored and the acrimony will fade somewhat. As sorry as I am to see SJ go, we are lucky that many former Princeton players are now prominent assistant coaches. These are all smart, hungry individuals who know how to play Princeton basketball. Who knows, maybe the next Pete Carril is just waiting for a chance.

Mike Knorr said,

April 5, 2011 @ 9:07 am

I echo what most people have said here. Maybe it's because I'm older, but if I were at a place I 'loved', all the money in the world couldn't get me to leave. I also don't buy the being afraid of Harvard and their recruits aspect. I'm not anointing them champions of anything yet. However, if this was a crucial factor, it would be interesting to hear exactly who we lost out on that made Johnson run. While many fans are disappointed to say the least, I feel bad for the players. Can't imagine that they aren't feeling betrayed.

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