Johnson ’97 departs, search for new coach begins

Sydney Johnson ’97 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Sydney Johnson ’97, head coach of the Ivy League champion men’s basketball team, resigned from Princeton April 4 to become the coach at Fairfield University. A national search for his successor is underway, according to a statement by Director of Athletics Gary Walters ’67.

In four years with the Tigers, Johnson’s teams were 66-53 overall. He led a remarkable turnaround that culminated with three memorable games this March: a 70-58 win over Penn at the Palestra that clinched a share of the Ivy title; a 63-62 last-second victory against Harvard in the Ivy playoff game; and a 59-57 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
Walters thanked Johnson for his contributions in a press release. “Obviously we’re disappointed that he is not staying to carry on the tradition of Princeton basketball,” he said. “But as a Princeton basketball alumnus, we wish him well as he takes another career step.”
Since 29-year veteran Pete Carril retired in 1996, no Princeton men’s basketball coach has stayed with the program longer than four seasons. Bill Carmody (1996-2000) left for Northwestern, John Thompson III ’88 (2000-04) departed for Georgetown, and Joe Scott ’87 (2004-07) moved on to Denver.
Johnson, a three-year captain as an undergraduate, returned to Princeton after assisting Thompson at Georgetown for three seasons. His first Tiger team stumbled to a 6-23 record, but from that point forward, the program made a steady climb in the Ivy standings. In 2009-10, the Tigers finished 22-9 overall and 11-3 in Ivy games, placed second behind Cornell, and reached the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational. This season, Princeton finished 25-7 overall, 12-2 in Ivy play, and won all 12 of its games at Jadwin Gym.

One thought on “Johnson ’97 departs, search for new coach begins

  1. Anonymous

    Syd was entering the last year of his contract and the school has done nothing to make him feel like they appreciate his efforts to pull this program out of the Ivy league basement. Obviously Fairlield recognizes his talent and made him a good offer. Good luck Syd you’ll be missed.


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