It’s Official! Avery Johnson Takes Helm

You may want to sit down before you read this. Alabama has confirmed what the college basketball world has known for two days, that former NBA Coach Avery Johnson has been hired as coach of the Crimson Tide men’s basketball program.

Alabama Athletics Director Bill Battle made it official Monday night moments before in Indianapolis, Ind., the national championship game between Wisconsin and Duke was tipping off.

Battle said, “I am very pleased to announce that I have reached an agreement with Avery Johnson to become the new head men's basketball coach at the University of Alabama.

“Coach Johnson has an impressive record from the professional ranks, as both a player and a head coach. His personal history is a testament to what character, enthusiasm, perseverance, talent and intelligence can do. He has shown fortitude and skill in every opportunity.

“I am confident that Avery will provide our student-athletes with the best qualities of leadership: commitment, hard work, enthusiasm, poise, confidence, and pride. I am very excited about having Avery join the Crimson Tide family. Not only do I believe that he will be an excellent head coach, but I am also convinced that he will be a tremendous example to our student-athletes in all areas on and off the court.”

As if more confirmation than national reports, earlier Monday ’BAMA Magazine/BamaMag.com reporter A.P.Steadham had reported that Johnson would make a recruiting visit Thusday to Theodore to see top prospect Dazon Ingram. Ingram had committed to Alabama earlier, but after Bama fired Anthony Grant after six years as Tide coach, Ingram said he was re-opening his recruitment.

Battle’s statement gave no details of the contract, although there has been a report from a credible source that Johnson was signed to a six-year deal.

The official University release noted that no contracts are final until approved by the compensation committee of the Board of Trustees (which would be more likely to gather for a glee club rendition of “War Eagle” than deny an athletics department employment contract).

Even before the selection of Johnson was made official, the addition of the former NBA Coach of the Year, who has been an analyst on ESPN the last three years, was met with general acclaim, not only from Bama fans but also from national pundits.

Johnson was also a professional basketball player, including making the winning basket for the San Antonio Spurs in their NBA championship.

One area in which Johnson is expected to expand Crimson Tide basketball recruiting is his familiarity with the AAU programs, particularly in Texas. His son, Avery Johnson, Jr., is a point guard at Texas A&M who came out of the AAU system.

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