Manhattan College announced former University of Hartford head coach John Gallagher as the new men’s basketball head coach just before noon March 28.
The decision concludes a months-long search for a permanent coach after Steve Masiello was relieved of his duties on Oct. 25 following 11 seasons on the sidelines at Manhattan. It also came as the Final Four tournament was about to tip off in Houston. The University of Connecticut eventually defeated upstart San Diego State University in the final Monday for its fifth title.
Gallagher, 45, becomes the 26th head coach in the history of Manhattan’s basketball program, which dates back to 1904. Gallagher led Hartford to a record of 169 wins and 207 losses across 12 seasons at the school before stepping away from the program last November due to disagreements with the school.
“I am going to work day and night to get Manhattan back on top of the MAAC,” Gallagher told The Riverdale Press. “We are going to turn this thing around and it’s going to be so much fun.”
Gallagher took the Hawks to the NCAA tournament in 2021 after winning the America East Conference Championship that season. Hartford lost in the first round to eventual champion Baylor. Two months later the school announced plans to transition to Division III. Under Gallagher, Hartford also advanced to the 2020 America East Conference title game before it was canceled due to the onset of the pandemic.
Gallagher’s final straw at Hartford came during a preseason exhibition game at Dartmouth when the school did not assign a trainer to travel with the team. Less than two weeks later, Gallagher submitted his letter of resignation effective immediately.
“I have witnessed the profound deterioration of this once-proud institution under the current administration,” Gallagher wrote in his resignation letter to Hartford president Greg Woodward.
Gallagher now teams up with an administration at Manhattan facing backlash on social media from fans and alumni who voiced support for last season’s interim head coach RaShawn Stores, who was not a finalist for the job, according to multiple sources. According to a source, Penn State assistant coach Mike Farrelly was one other finalist.
Manhattan College athletics director Marianne Reilly addressed reporters over zoom last Wednesday. She doubled down on her commitment to Gallagher, calling the hire “the right decision at the moment,” and responded to any allegations that the decision to hire Gallagher, a white man, over Stores, a black man, was racially influenced like some fans and former players had conjectured on social media.
“Any (assertion) that race had to do anything with this is absolutely incorrect,” Reilly said.
Among the critics are Manhattan players who have been vocal in their support of Stores, usually taking those sentiments to social media. When the news broke last Tuesday, the tweets were more prevalent than ever.
“That’s crazy! RaShawn Stores deserves this job,” tweeted former Manhattan point guard Samir Stewart. “He did an excellent job on short notice.”
Another tweet from Daniel Schreier read: “If it weren’t for RaShawn Stores and his staff, I’m not sure I would have been able to play competitive basketball again.”
The 31-year-old Stores won back to back Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships in 2014 and 2015 as Manhattan’s starting point guard before serving on Masiello’s staff for five seasons. In his first campaign as a head coach, Stores led the Jaspers to a 12-18 record overall, including a 10-10 mark against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opponents.
“Been going to games since I was a little kid,” one fan tweeted. “Won’t be going to anymore ever again.”
Gallagher told The Press he is “still figuring staff out” in terms of which assistant coaches he will bring on. It is expected the Jaspers will have double-digit scholarships available, with four players already entering the transfer portal since the end of the season.
Manhattan athletics was scheduled to introduce coach Gallagher in a campus news conference on Wednesday.