Billionaire Booster Mike Repole Rips St. John's Over Coaching Search

Mike Francesa
April 17, 2019 - 5:27 pm

By WFAN.com

The St. John's coaching search has left billionaire businessman and university booster Mike Repole frustrated. And it's not the first time.

Repole was a guest on Mike Francesa's show Wednesday and ripped into the St. John's decision makers -- namely president Bobby Gempesaw and vice president for administration Joe Oliva -- for botching the hiring process.

"We watch this déjà vu mistake every four or five years, and why can't this university get this right?" the Vitaminwater and BodyArmor co-founder said.

St. John's legend Chris Mullin stepped down after four years as head coach last week. While Repole said Mullin never received the support he needed from the school, he also believed Dan Hurley, who was then at Rhode Island, should've been the choice in 2015. Hurley is now leading the UConn program.

This time around, Repole said St. John's should've hired Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, Dan's brother. Bobby Hurley, a native of Jersey City, removed his name from consideration and returned to the Sun Devils with a contract extension.

Repole believes St. John's was too cheap when it came to its pursuit of Bobby Hurley.

"You don't think he wants to coach at the Garden with his parents there, with his in-laws there?" he said.

Repole spoke highly of athletic director Mike Cragg, who he believes wants all the right things for the program, but said the AD's voice is being drowned out.

"The same two guys who screwed up the Danny Hurley situation and hired Chris Mullin and made an embarrassment of Chris Mullin for the last four years are now going to get in his way," Repole said. "They need to either step aside or step out because Mike Cragg, he's going to get 10 job interviews ... over the next three months. He's not going to stay there long. He's way too smart, way too experienced."

St. John's has also been turned down by Loyola-Chicago coach Porter Moser. Meanwhile, Tim Cluess, who has led Iona to six NCAA Tournament appearances in nine years, "would walk from New Rochelle to Queens tomorrow" to coach St. John's, Repole said, but the university has not offered him the job.

Repole said the problems at St. John's extend beyond the basketball court and believes it's time for a new university president. He also said the school's board is a bunch of "yes men" who go silent when it's time to make major decisions.

"The culture at St. John's right now is toxic," Repole said. 

"We know the importance of academics. We know the importance of new buildings. At the end of the day, the basketball team and this sport is the front porch of your house. We look like we have a pretty ugly front porch right now. What do you think the inside of the house looks like if the front porch looks like crap?"

To listen to the interview, click on the audio player above.