Fairfield Athletics Director Paul Schlickmann announced a change in leadership of the men’s basketball program on Monday, March 11 after a losing season for the Stags. Head Coach Sydney Johnson was introduced to Fairfield hoops in Apr. of 2011 following a four season tenure at Princeton University, his alma mater. Johnson’s termination is effective immediately.
Fairfield’s season came to an early end on Thursday, March 7 at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships when Fairfield lost to the Manhattan College Jaspers, 57-53. The four point deficit cemented the Stags’ record at 9-22 to finish off the disappointing 2018-2019 season.
Johnson contributed significantly Fairfield’s basketball program, as the first coach in four decades to collect four winning seasons in the MAAC. He tallied the most postseason victories in school history and racked up five winning seasons, again making him the only coach to do so in the University’s history. Additionally, since his reign as basketball’s head coach, seven of his student-athletes have signed professional contracts. In the 2012-2013 season, the Stags recorded a trio of postseason wins, which is the most by any of Fairfield’s Division 1 teams ever. In December of 2016, Fairfield basketball registered the school’s only win versus an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) team, Boston College, in its history.
In eight seasons as basketball’s Head Coach, Johnson registered a 116-147 overall record and a 68-84 record in MAAC play, according to the Fairfield Athletics website. The MAAC recognized 17 student-athletes during his incumbency for major award or All-Conference accolades.
On June 25, 2018 Coach Johnson signed a contract extension with Fairfield University through the 2020-2021 season following a 17-16 season, which ended with a four round playoff run. “He believes not only in Fairfield, but in the values we espouse institutionally and athletically for the holistic development of our student-athletes,” said Fairfield University’s Athletic Director Paul Schlickmann of Johnson at the time in a statement following the extension. Due to the unexpected turn that this year took, however, school administrators felt that it was in the best interest of the franchise to part ways with Johnson.
“Fairfield University is on an amazing trajectory as an institution. We are committed to excellence in all aspects of the educational experience. As such, we have high expectations for the consistent success of our Men’s Basketball program and the multi-faceted impact it can have on our University culture. This is a coveted role that will attract high-caliber candidates. I am confident we will find a leader who can embrace and implement our shared vision and values,” noted Schlickmann.
“I want to thank Coach Johnson for his commitment to Fairfield. He has led our program with integrity, served as a great mentor to our student-athletes and been a valued member of the University community,” said Schlickmann. “We wish him and his family the very best in the next phase of their journey.”
Johnson’s parting statement reflected the honorable and dignified character that he possessed throughout his time at Fairfield on and off of the court. “I can’t thank Fairfield University, Mark Nemec and Paul Schlickmann enough for the opportunity I was given to lead the men’s basketball program for the past two seasons. My family and I will always be indebted to the Stag Nation for the memories over the years. I wish our student-athletes, alumni and fans all the best moving forward.”
The Mirror reached out to graduating seniors Jonathan Kasibabu, Matija Milin and Thomas Nolan, who did not respond to our request for a statement. Schlickmann replied to The Mirror’s request for comment with original press release.
The search commences for the 13th head coach to lead Fairfield University’s Men’s basketball program. This individual will accept that role effective next fall for the 2019-2020 season.
One of the largest executive search firms, Ventura Partners, Inc., will aid Fairfield in the nationwide hunt for the Head Coach Position, led Katy Young Staudt.