Report: Avery Johnson, Alabama Negotiating Contract Buyout After 4 Seasons as HC

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

KNOXVILLE, TN - JANUARY 19: Head coach Avery Johnson of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during the first half of the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena on January 19, 2019 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)
Donald Page/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide and head basketball coach Avery Johnson are discussing a buyout of his contract, according to AL.com's Michael Casagrande.

In 2018-19, Alabama missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in four seasons under Johnson. The Crimson Tide are also a day removed from losing to the Norfolk State Spartans in overtime during the opening round of the 2019 NIT.  

Jeff Goodman of Stadium corroborated Casagrande's report and added that Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm could be on Alabama's shortlist of replacement candidates. Prohm is in his fourth year with the Cyclones, and his team has made three NCAA tournament appearances and won two Big 12 tournament titles.

While Alabama hasn't fallen too far from the level it enjoyed under Johnson's predecessor, Anthony Grant, the program hasn't taken any steps forward, either.

It averaged just under 20 wins and made one NCAA tournament appearance over Grant's six years. During Johnson's reign, the team has averaged 18.8 wins and made a trip to the Big Dance in 2018.

Following Wednesday's loss, Johnson expressed a desire to remain on the sideline for the Crimson Tide.

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"I love being the coach here at Alabama," he said, per Casagrande. "That's my plan. I made that crystal clear to [athletic director Greg Byrne] 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."

Moving on from Johnson could be a sign of the school's ambition for the basketball team.

Last August, Alabama announced its plans to spend $600 million over 10 years to upgrade its athletic facilities—Coleman Coliseum included.

Football will always be the top priority, but that doesn't prevent the Crimson Tide from getting their basketball team back to a level at which it's consistently earning NCAA tournament berths. Alabama was a March mainstay throughout the 1980s and into the mid-1990s.

Prohm makes sense as a target for the Tide. The 44-year-old maintained a high standard with the Murray State Racers and carried the trend over to the Cyclones. He already has ties to Alabama since he graduated from the school in 1997 with a degree in education.