Johnston’s change of heart has far-reaching effects


Editorial Board

The issue:Women’s basketball head coach Aaron Johnston announced he was leaving SDSU one day, and then that he was coming the next day.

Our view:Next time, Johnston needs to consider the weight and consequences of his decision more heavily.

On the evening of April 25, Women’s Basketball Head Coach Aaron Johnston announced to the world that he was leaving SDSU to take over the head coaching position for the women’s basketball team at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, a team only slightly better than the Jacks. The next morning, he called SDSU Athletic Director Fred Oien to ask for his job back. Less than 24 hours after resigning from his position at SDSU, Johnston announced his return to South Dakota, leaving UWGB in a lurch.

In the days that have passed since the whole saga transpired, Johnston has pretty much received a free pass from the media and the SDSU community. The school and his team welcomed him back with open arms. Johnston deserves praise for being able to admit he made a mistake when he decided to leave SDSU. Everyone makes mistakes, but as a public figure, Johnston’s mistakes will be under more scrutiny, and his actions should therefore be more thought through than what they seemed to be.

It’s clear that the SDSU community wants him back; what isn’t clear is what Johnston wants. How much longer does he plan to stay with the SDSU women’s basketball team? He’s frustrated with the current support facilities his team uses and with the shortage of full-time assistant coaches. What if the school doesn’t take action to fix these problems? How much time do they have before he starts looking elsewhere again?

Some have called into question Johnston’s loyalty to SDSU. While it’s nice to believe a coach values his team more than his own career, that’s not how it actually works. Johnston doesn’t owe it to SDSU to stay with the Jacks forever, and it shouldn’t be expected of him. He deserves to be able to climb the success ladder just like anyone else.

What UWGB deserves is someone who’s sure he or she wants to be at their school. Johnston’s last-minute change of heart wasn’t fair to their athletic department. They weren’t able to do what they believed was best for their women’s basketball program and were forced to make an embarrassing announcement.

What SDSU deserves is enough respect from Johnston that when he does decide to leave-and it probably will happen someday-that he takes a step up in his career, not a step sideways. Go bigger, not equal.