Steve Lavin

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For the Montanan politician, see Steve Lavin (politician).
Steve Lavin
Headshot from Coach Lavin of St. John's University 2010.jpg
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1964-09-04) September 4, 1964 (age 50)
San Francisco, California
Playing career
San Francisco State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Purdue (assistant)
UCLA (assistant)
St. John's
Head coaching record
Overall 226–133 (.630)
Accomplishments and honors
1 Pac-10 (1997)
2011 USBWA District 2 Coach of the Year
2001 Pacific-10 Coach of the Year
1997 Pacific-10 Champions
1997 Basketball Times National Rookie Coach of the Year
1997 NABC District 15 Coach of the Year
1997 USBWA District 9 Coach of the Year

Stephen Michael "Steve" Lavin[1] (born September 4, 1964) is a former American basketball coach. He most recently served as head men's basketball coach at St. John's University in Queens, New York. Lavin also previously served as the head coach for UCLA.

Lavin — whose nine-year head coaching record includes seven NCAA tournament appearances, five trips to the NCAA Round of 16 and seven seasons of 21 wins or more — became the 19th head men’s basketball coach at St. John’s March 30, 2010 after a seven-year career as a college basketball analyst for ESPN. At St. John's he assembled a specialized basketball staff including individuals with NBA coaching experience and a history of national and city championships. They landed the consensus No. 3 recruiting class in the nation for 2011-12. Lavin’s class for the 2012-13 season was ranked No. 8 nationally. On March 27, 2015 Lavin and St. John's agreed to end his tenure as head coach.

Early life[edit]

Lavin was born on September 4, 1964 in San Francisco. He attended Ross Grammar School in Ross, California and then Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, California, where his basketball team won the state championship. He initially attended San Francisco State University, where he played on the basketball team. He transferred to Chapman University, from which he graduated in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in communications.[2]

Lavin's coaching career began in 1988 when he was hired as an assistant by Purdue head coach Gene Keady. After three years on the Boilermaker staff, Lavin returned to California when UCLA head coach Jim Harrick hired him as a Bruins assistant in 1991. Lavin was an assistant coach on the Bruins' 1995 national championship team that finished with a 32–1 record.[2] Until the national championship season, Lavin was UCLA's "restricted earnings" coach.[3]


Shortly before the 1996 season, UCLA fired Jim Harrick for lying about who attended a recruiting dinner.[3] On the departure of assistants Mark Gottfried and Lorenzo Romar for head coaching jobs shortly after the 1995 NCAA Championship season, Lavin, as the assistant with the longest tenure at UCLA, was selected as interim head coach.

Later that season on February 11, 1997, with the Bruins tied for first place in the Pac-10 with an 8–3 record, UCLA removed the "interim" tag from Lavin's title and formally named him as its 11th head coach. The Bruins then won their next 11 games en route to the Pac-10 title, before being eliminated by the Minnesota Gophers in the NCAA Midwest Regional Final. In seven seasons as head coach Lavin’s record was 12–4 in games involving overtime. Additionally Lavin's Bruins had a 10–4 record against the rival USC Trojans. During the period 1997–2002, Lavin’s Bruins compiled nine consecutive overtime victories. These included victories over Arizona, Cincinnati (2002 NCAA second round double overtime victory over No. 1 West Region seed), Kentucky, and Stanford (then ranked No 1).[4]

At UCLA from 1996 to 2003, Lavin compiled a record of 145–78. As both an assistant and head coach, Lavin participated in 13 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (1990–2002), while working at Purdue and UCLA. During Lavin's tenure as a head coach, he was one of only two coaches in the country to lead his team to five NCAA "Sweet 16s" in six years (1997, 1998, 2000-2002), the other coach being Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. Lavin guided UCLA to six consecutive seasons of 20 or more wins, as well as six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.[5]

In March 2003, following UCLA's first losing season (10–19) in 52 years, Lavin was fired.


As head coach at UCLA, Lavin and his staff recruited and signed the No. 1 rated recruiting class in the country in 1998 and 2001.[citation needed] Lavin signed seven McDonald's High School All-Americans. Seven of Lavin’s former Bruin recruits became roster members of NBA teams: Trevor Ariza (Washington Wizards), Matt Barnes (Los Angeles Clippers), Baron Davis, Dan Gadzuric, Ryan Hollins (Los Angeles Clippers), Jason Kapono (Panathinaikos B.C.), and Earl Watson (Utah Jazz).

Sweet 16[edit]

During Lavin’s tenure as head coach, the Bruins qualified for six consecutive NCAA Tournaments (1997–2002). During this period, Lavin became one of two coaches (along with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski) to have led his team to five NCAA Sweet 16s in six seasons. Lavin’s record in the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament is 10–1. His winning percentage (90.9%) in the first two rounds is second only to Dean Smith in NCAA Tournament history. However, Lavin also coached the Bruins to their only loss in an NCAA tournament game played in the State of California (a 2002 loss to Missouri in San Jose).

In seven seasons as head coach Lavin's record was 12–4 in games involving overtime. The Bruins defeated the No. 1 team in the country in four consecutive collegiate seasons: Stanford in 2000 and 2001, Kansas in 2002 and Arizona in 2003.

Television career[edit]

Soon after being fired from UCLA in 2003, Lavin signed a multi-year broadcasting deal with ABC and ESPN. He made regular appearances on ESPN College GameNight and provided color-commentary alongside his partner Brent Musburger at prime time college games around the country.

St. John's[edit]

In 2010, Lavin was hired as the head men's basketball coach at St. John's University. His first year included a 21-12 overall record, St. John’s highest number of wins since the 2002-03 season, with six Top 25 victories, four over Top 10 opponents and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. Lavin inherited a team that finished in 13th place in the Big East Conference in 2009-10 at 6-12 into a squad that tied for third in 2010-11 at 12-6. Only twice before has a jump of such magnitude occurred in the tournament's history. The Red Storm finished its season ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25, marking the first time it qualified for the postseason as a ranked team since 2000-01. The Red Storm, which posted a 7-1 record in eight regular season games at Madison Square Garden and a 5-2 record on campus at Carnesecca Arena, saw its home attendance climb by 38.1 percent, marking the fourth-largest increase in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.

Lavin underwent surgical treatment for prostate cancer in early October 2011, returning to the bench on November 9 and coaching four games in a nine-day span before leaving the bench again and modifying his schedule to reduce stress that was inhibiting his recovery.[6]

On March 27, 2015 Lavin and St. John's mutually agreed to part ways.[7]


  • 1997 – International Inspiration Award from the Hugh O'Brien Youth Foundation (HOBY)
  • 1998 – Chapman University Alumnus of the Year (also serves on Board of Governors at Chapman University)
  • 1998 – Honorary member of the Golden Key National Honor Society at UCLA
  • 2005 – Distinguished Alumni award from the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts from Chapman University

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
UCLA Bruins (Pacific-10 Conference) (1996–2003)
1996–97 UCLA 24–8 15–3 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1997–98 UCLA 24–9 12–6 3rd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1998–99 UCLA 22–9 12–6 3rd NCAA First Round
1999–00 UCLA 21–12 10–8 T–4th NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2000–01 UCLA 23–9 14–4 3rd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2001–02 UCLA 21–12 11–7 6th NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2002–03 UCLA 10–19 6–12 T–6th
UCLA: 145–78 (.650) 80–46 (.635)
St. John's Red Storm (Big East Conference) (2010–present)
2010–11 St. John's 21–12 12–6 5th NCAA Round of 64
2011–12 St. John's 2−2 - T–11th
2012–13 St. John's 17–16 8–10 11th NIT Second Round
2013–14 St. John's 20–13 10–8 T–3rd NIT First Round
2014–15 St. John's 21−12 10−8 5th NCAA Round of 64
St. John's: 81–55 (.596) 40–32 (.556)
Total: 226–133 (.630)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ "Stephen Michael Lavin". Marquis Who's Who. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Steve Lavin". St. John's Red Storm. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Wolff, Alexander Out To Dinner, Out Of A Job Sports Illustrated, November 18, 1996
  4. ^ "Steve Lavin". UCLA Bruins. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  5. ^ McMurphy, Brett (2011). "Steve Lavin Takes New York by Storm". Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ Weiss, Dick (January 26, 2012). "Steve Lavin, now cancer-free, doesn't rule out returning to St. John's bench this season". New York Daily News. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Eisenberg, Jeff (March 27, 2015). "Steve Lavin out at St. John's after five up-and-down seasons". Retrieved 27 March 2015.