Norm Roberts left New York City to start fulfilling his dream of becoming a Division 1 head basketball coach. Now he's back, facing the daunting task of turning around the St. John's program.
The 38-year-old Kansas assistant was offered the St. John's job yesterday morning. Five hours later, he was introduced as the school's 18th head coach and the fourth in the last 10 years. He received a five-year contract.
Last December, Mike Jarvis became the first coach in Big East history to be fired during a season. Assistant Kevin Clark was appointed interim coach, and the Red Storm finished with a 6-21 record and just eight players, including four walk-ons, after a string of suspensions and expulsions.
"The main thing is to change the mind-set within our program," said Roberts, who was an assistant to Bill Self the last eight years. "Then we'll have to change the mind-set in the community. People have to start feeling good again about St. John's. We are going to get people excited. St. John's is New York City."
Many felt Jarvis lost the New York basketball community, especially the high school and AAU coaches, and the best of the local players weren't staying home to play college basketball.
"It pains me to see guys from New York City wearing other uniforms. It pains me to see guys winning national championships that should be playing at St. John's," Roberts said. "We're not going to get them all, it's impossible to get them all, but there won't be one kid in New York City that will say St. John's didn't bust their tail recruiting."
Roberts's only head coaching experience came from 1992-95 at his alma mater, Queens College, where he compiled a 24-84 record before leaving the New York area to join Self's staff at Oral Roberts and moving with him to Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas.
Share the blame
Suspended Colorado football coach Gary Barnett told investigators there is "no question" there was misbehavior at a 2001 party at the center of a rape scandal but suggested everybody who attended shared the blame.
Barnett, appearing for the first time before a panel looking into recruiting practices at the school, said there were 10 people at the party, including four football players.
"There is no question in my mind that inappropriate behavior occurred," Barnett said. "There is no question that the behavior of the 10 young people involved was the result of their own poor decisions and under the influence of alcohol."
Three women have said they were raped by players or recruits at the party or just afterward. They have sued the school in federal court, seeking unspecified damages for what they say was the school's failure to rein in athletes and provide equal protection to women.