Unbuckled: Avery Johnson era at Alabama coming to an end

Men's basketball coaching reportedly negotiating buyout to leave Crimson Tide

​TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Avery Johnson era at the University of Alabama is coming to a close.

BamaCentral.com has confirmed that the men's basketball coach is negotiating a buyout to leave the Crimson Tide. A final agreement has yet to come together, but the decision was made that it would be in everyone's best interest for someone else to take over the program.

Johnson compiled a 75-62 record at Alabama, with one appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

At one point this season, after it defeated then-No 13 Kentucky to open SEC play on Jan. 5, Alabama was 10-3.

It finished 18-16, missed the NCAA Tournament and was bounced as a top seed in the first round of the NIT by Norfolk State, 80-79 OT.

“I love being the coach here at Alabama,” Johnson said after the game. “That’s my plan. I’ve made that crystal clear to Greg in our meeting, and hopefully, they feel the same way. But I’m committed to it. I still have time left, obviously, on my contract. And when I came to Alabama, I had other options, but I wanted to make a commitment to helping develop and help kids and help some of them become first-generation graduates from college, help some make it to the NBA. We’ve done both of those things. Help this team make it to the NCAA Tournament and advance. We’ve done that.

“So yeah, we had a little bit of a setback this year, and I know this is a microwave era where it’s always, ‘blow the team up, blow the staff up,’ when you don’t get the results you want. But when you don’t get the results you want, you just work hard. I feel we have the right people, we have a nice recruiting class coming in. But we just have to get better, we got to get better. And hopefully, we’ll have that opportunity.”

According to the USA Today coaching salary database, Johnson made $3.062 million last season, making him the 19th-highest paid coach in college basketball and fourth in the SEC behind Kentucky's John Calipari ($7.95 million), Tennessee's Rick Barnes ($3.25 million) and Georgia's Tom Crean ($3.2 million).

Johnson's contract includes an $8 million buyout if he was dismissed before April 15. It dropped $6 million after that and another $2 million after next season.

His initial contact was extended in August 2017 to run through the 2022-23 season.

During that same press conference Tuesday night, Johnson disclosed that he and Director of Athletics Greg Byrne had met and talked about the future of the program for about an hour on Saturday.

“This year, obviously, we kind of flat-lined a little bit and we wanted to take a step forward,” Johnson said. “I had talked about that all in the offseason, and a step forward would have meant making it to the tournament with another opportunity to advance. But things happen, and whether you don’t make it to the tournament or whether you’re another sport and you lose in the first round of your tournament or lost in the second round, you’ve got to come back and work. We’ve got a lot of work to do. So, we don’t think it’s all a failure just because we didn’t make it to the tournament, and we have work to do.

“And I know more about this team, I know more about coaching in college after my fourth year. This is not my 14th year at Alabama, it’s just the fourth year. But we wanted to have better results. I am not hiding from that. And I’m very disappointed with the loss tonight, and I’m disappointed we couldn’t take that step forward. But we’ll figure out how to do that, and we have some ideas as staff.”

Johnson's son, Avery Jr., was one of the outgoing players due to his eligibility having expired.

This story will be updated as necessary.


Christopher  Walsh
EditorChristopher Walsh
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Christopher  Walsh
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Christopher  Walsh
EditorChristopher Walsh
Christopher  Walsh
EditorChristopher Walsh