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Monday News:

The normally optimistic Will Venable is struggling with a slow start in San Diego. Venable is hitting .177 through 18 games.

Sydney Johnson talked to the Connecticut Post about a variety of topics.

A guard who had interest in Princeton before committing to Gonzaga has transferred to Fairfield.

Georgetown's Hollis Thompson declared for the NBA Draft but did not hire an agent.

Chris Young will return from the disabled list tomorrow and start versus the Washington Nationals.

A senior from western Pennsylvania says his top two choices are William & Mary and Princeton.

George Clark said,

April 25, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

Aaron Johnson may be the first test of my theory that Henderson won't miss a beat in the recruiting competition as a result of SJ's departure. Certainly a coaching change can tip the balance in a decision in which all other factors are equal or relatively so. I hope he gets a chance with this kid. Western PA produces a lot of hard nosed players and a lot of high quality teams. One would assume he has no issues in the Admissions Office.

R.W. Enoch, Jr. said,

April 25, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

Of note: Guy Gadowsky, head coach of Princeton men's hockey for some time now, resigned to be the inaugural head coach at Penn State. You can't help but draw the conclusion that the frustration of working within an extremely tight admissions framework, and without scholarships or transfers, is driving these coaches away. Moving to a new program with no history of winning and no current assistant coaches or student-athletes in probably the 2nd toughest conference in college hockey could be career suicide and not a decision I imagine he took lightly. An interesting choice, but more understandable than moving to Fairfield.

Gregg Lange said,

April 25, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

RW --

Interesting issue, wrong example. Penn State just got $88 mm from Terry Pegula, the new billionaire owner of the Sabres, to build a huge arena and endow the hockey team -- they are swimming in bucks, and probably could have bought almost anybody. This is not career suicide, it is the Emerald (well, OK, blue) City. What it does show is how well Gadowsky is regarded, tacitly including his reasonable success at Princeton.

None of which addresses Fairfield.

R.W. Enoch, Jr. said,

April 25, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

No question that he's getting a huge pay-raise and enormous institutional support (not to mention a cool opportunity to start from scratch); HOWEVER, you know PSU is going to expect some SERIOUS results within 5 seasons if they're spending that kind of money. If he struggles to make the NCAA tournament, or maybe even if he simply goes winless in a few tournament appearances, they're not going to hesitate to let him go. In that sense, it is a risky move. You could say that's true about taking any high-profile coaching position (Notre Dame football, UNC basketball, etc.), but the difference here is that there's no framework whatsoever at PSU. Money does not equal winning. Pennsylvania is notoriously not a hockey state. Recruiting Michigan-quality players away from Michigan & MSU my prove extremely difficult, even with a ton of full scholarships.

They would not fire him for a long time at Princeton, and he's competing in hockey's easiest conference, where he can reasonably expect to go to the tournament a few times every 5-or-so years. Sure, you aren't competing for all the beans, but there's a lot of security there.

David Lewis said,

April 25, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

Princeton hockey coach's decision is a no brainer. Penn State will have a very competitive hockey team almost immediately. It does not matter whether Pennsylvania has hockey players or not. They will get twenty great Canadian players in the first year and will do very well. Look at what happened when Notre Dame became a D-I program a few years ago. They were great from the beginning. The same thing happened in lacrosse. Penn State just hired Cornell's great coach and is now ranked in the top 20 in his first year. Most coaches are coaches first who want to compete at the highest level and make the most money that they can. As much as I love Princeton athletics, you cannot blame these coaches for leaving the Ivy League. I want Princeton basketball to compete on a national level but I do not want the basketball coach to make twice or three times as much as the best professor on campus. I respect the Ivy League for taking a stand against the insanity going on in college athletics.

TigerHeel said,

April 26, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

See Seth Davis' reaction below to Princeton failing to keep Coach Johnson. For better or for worse, the perception among top columnists like Davis and Katz is that Princeton wouldn't step up to the plate to pay its basketball coach.

Worst loss of an alum: Princeton.
If you're an Ivy League school, there's no shame in losing your coach after his team comes within a bucket of beating a No. 4 seed (Kentucky) in the NCAA tournament. But when you're Princeton, and you're supposed to be the class of the Ivy, and your coach is an alum, and he leaves for ... Fairfield? I'd say there's some shame in that. No disrespect to Fairfield, but if schools like Butler, Gonzaga, Richmond and VCU can lock up their coaches when they're in high demand, there's no reason why Princeton couldn't have done the same for Sydney Johnson. Princeton athletic director Gary Walters seems to be under the impression that it's such a big honor to coach at Princeton that the school doesn't need to pay its coach at market value. Johnson proved him wrong.

Read more:

Paul Hauge said,

April 26, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

You beat me to it, TigerHeel. I saw the same item a few minutes ago. Not a good way to make it into a column, for sure.

david bennet said,

April 26, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

Any word on Brian Earl or assistant coaches?

Jon Greenwald said,

April 26, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

Richmond "locked in" Chris Mooney by committing to paying him $1 million for each of the next ten years; VCU is reported to have "locked in" its coach for $1.2 million. The "shame" isn't for not paying the so-called market rate for coaches; it's what many institutions of higher learning are prepared to make that market rate. Count me with David Lewis as understanding why Princeton won't go along and as being proud of that position.

Jon Solomon said,

April 26, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

David, nothing beyond what I reported here:


John Poole said,

April 26, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

I have to agree with Jon (Greenwald) on this one. Much as it hurts to lose a coach as fine as Sydney Johnson, I don't think that we should allow ourselves to get dragged into the bidding war for basketball or any other coaches. If that means that we only get a few years before a good coach moves on, so be it. But, perhaps we can periodically adjust the salaries upward like any others and provide other inducements that will reduce, if not close, the compensation gap. The "privilege" remark ascribed to a blogger (Andy Katz) was a poor choice of words. However, coaching at Princeton with its many offerings and fine student athletes isn't a bad job. We can't match the million dollar offers, but perhaps we can provide an attractive position and quality of life for, say, six instead of four years to the right candidate.

George Clark said,

April 26, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

Of course it is an honor to coach at Princeton. I doubt very much, however, that AD Walters suggested that SJ should be satisfied with the honor instead of the money. Princeton's institutional goals do not allow for the committment of resources required to compete in Dl basketball. Nor should they. SJ, JTlll and Bill Carmody are extraordinarily talented coaches whose personal goals stretch beyond the Ivy League. Nothing wrong with that. We are supposed to be different and that's why we love it so much.

R.W. Enoch, Jr. said,

April 26, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

You are all conflating "competing with big time athletics" and "treating an employee with respect." I don't care what field you work in; if you've worked hard and done an excelsior job at your position for 4 years, you deserve a raise. PERIOD. If the reported head coaching salary of ~$225,000 is near accurate, then it was an insult to Coach Johnson not to offer him a raise to a salary point somewhere between $250k and $350k. I don't think we should throw millions at coaches in desperation to keep them longer, but there's no arguing Coach Johnson deserved more money.

Jon Greenwald said,

April 26, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

We all agree that Sydney should have been treated with "respect". Without personal knowledge of the discussions that must have occurred, I don't doubt he was so treated. We don't know whether he was offered a raise, or if he was, to what level. All we know is that he is to be paid considerably more at Fairfield than Princeton wished to pay. The immediate debate -- as framed by the commentary of Katz and Davis, two writers whose profession is athletics, not education -- isn't whether we offered or should have offered Sydney a raise, but whether it was a "shame" that we would not pay him the market rate for a highly successful, remarkably talented college basketball coach. That market rate, however, is considerably above $250,000-$350,000. To give another example, George Mason was unable to retain Jim Larranaga this week though it offered him an improved contract that, with incentives, would reach $1 million. What I have said is that I agree with Princeton's apparent decision not to pay a basketball coach at or near such a level. One of the factors that probably matters to Sydney -- and if it does, we don't know how important it is in relation to others such as, for example, to reach the top of the ladder of his profession as defined by national championships as quickly as possible -- is to be paid closer to market value. Fair enough. One shouldn't demean him for that. But nor should Princeton be faulted for holding to a different concept of the relationship athletics and education should have at a world-class university.

Stuart Schulman said,

April 27, 2011 @ 11:58 am

It is my understanding that economics professors and (at universities with B-schools) business professors tend to be paid higher than other faculty because of market forces--they could earn more in the private sector.

The Trustees are within their rights to decide whether to pay market prices for sports coaches. But if they choose to advance the academic mission of the University by paying coaches competitively, they need look no further than the Malkiels and Bernankes of the world for justification.

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