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St. John’s donor and alum Mike Repole blasts administration on radio

Mike Repole opens up with everything he’s got in talking about the administrative logjam that he says is keeping St. John’s from hiring, and keeping, a good coach

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Alum and Vitamin Water CEO — and St. John’s donor — Mike Repole opened up the proverbial chopper on St. John’s administration [link] in a radio interview on WFAN with Mike Francesca.

To his credit, one can feel the passion that Repole has for the St. John’s program. But, now taking a step back from the program, Repole and Francesca open up with their grievances in what Repole calls “five years of bottled emotions”:

  • calls the school President (Bobby Gempashore), General Counsel (Joseph Oliva) and Chairman of the Board (Bill Collins) “incompetent, clueless leaders”; calls the Board of Directors “weak puppets”, says the school needs a new President and says the culture is “toxic”;
  • says he will personally pay for Oliva and Gempashore to go, that kids now go away and the brand of St. John’s is tarnished;
  • Loyola-Chicago’s Porter Moser didn’t take the job because he thought he was Mike Cragg’s second choice;
  • Iona’s Tim Cluess has met with St. John’s and was excited;
  • sings the praises of Mike Cragg, who he says “wanted to make Chris better”, and then says “Chris didn’t work out”; he thinks Cragg won’t be at the job for long, since he’s not able to do his job without interference;
  • calls out the president and general counsel for making Chris Mullin an embarrassment, not hiring Danny Hurley; says Bobby Hurley didn’t get the job because the administration got cheap (Zach Braziller disputes this);
  • remarks that Chris Mullin did not get the right support from the leadership — said he told Mullin before he took the job that “it’s not for you” because of the support;
  • said the facilities were “embarrassing” and he funded the upgrades;
  • says he and Mike Francesca can “save this school”;
  • thinks next year will be 0-16, or maybe the team won’t suit up;
  • and thinks St. John’s needs to pay $3-4 million dollars to get a coach that can win.


This interview is not a good look... for anyone involved. Clearly passionate, two alums put the school on blast in a way that will be remembered for a long, long time. In doing so, made the St. John’s job look even worse than it is.

Whether right or not, in part or in total, this interview is probably not going to change the behavior or get a change in leadership.

After all, a school is more than its basketball program, even if that program means a lot to the school’s brand. I never would have known about St. John’s until adulthood, personally, without hearing about Mark Jackson and Chris Mullin.

But it is hard to imagine a school suddenly going “yeah, that guy is right, let’s kick out our leadership.” That leadership likely has internal allies that would make it hard to make that kind of change.


Can this interview help make change and clear the way for the coaches that are in the mix to interview — Ryan Odom, James Jones and Frank Haith?