- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 23, 2000

Almost impossible to deny on the basketball court, Washington president of basketball operations Michael Jordan twice has been denied the man he wanted to coach the Wizards.

Yesterday St. John's University men's basketball coach Mike Jarvis, considered the front-runner for the Wizards' job for the last week, withdrew his candidacy, becoming the second coach Jordan has failed to secure for the team.

At midseason Jordan wanted to hire former Golden State assistant Rod Higgins recently named assistant general manager with the Wizards as the replacement for the fired Gar Heard. However, the Wizards and the Warriors couldn't agree on compensation for Higgins, and the deal fell through.

Jarvis was unavailable for comment yesterday, but he released a statement through the university's athletic department.

"As many of you know I have been in discussion with the Washington Wizards about the head coaching position," Jarvis said in the statement. "Unfortunately we have not been able to come to a mutual agreement. Therefore, a short time ago I informed Michael Jordan of my desire to withdraw my name from consideration for the job. I wish to turn my full attention and energy to the task of preparing for next season at St. John's.

"I would like to express my appreciation to the Washington organization, especially Michael Jordan, for their interest. I wish the Wizards great success in the future."

Despite Jarvis' statement about St. John's, his agent, Rob Ades, said last night Jarvis was considering other opportunities.

"In addition to a couple of other NBA possibilities, he's also considering a major college coaching position in the Big Ten," Ades said.

Ades only said it is "a step up from St. John's in terms of stature" and that talks have already begun. There are no current openings at any of the Big Ten schools.

Disappointed he and Jarvis could not come to terms, Jordan again acknowledged he had a contingency plan. Jordan said he had several candidates in mind but did not mention names.

"In all actuality, there are a lot of other candidates out there just as qualified," Jordan said about Jarvis. "And we have made contact with those guys."

Ades and Jordan last met face to face Thursday. At the time the two sides reportedly were far apart on a deal. A source with knowledge of the discussions said the Wizards offered Jarvis, who makes $735,000 annually as the coach of the Red Storm, a four-year deal worth about $2.3 million a season. Ades, according to the source, asked for $28 million over seven seasons. Talks ended abruptly, with the Wizards leaving the ball in the Jarvis-Ades camp.

After the initial contract talks broke off Thursday, $15 million over five years a deal the Atlanta Hawks offered Michigan State coach Tom Izzo seemed like common ground for the two sides.

Originally, Jordan wanted a coach in place by Sunday's NBA Draft lottery in case the team finished with one of the top three picks. However, the Wizards finished with the seventh pick, meaning the pick belongs to Chicago via Golden State and the 1994 Chris Webber trade, and will not pick until the second round (No. 35) on June 28.

Jarvis was one of five candidates known to have spoken to the Wizards. Washington talked to former Atlanta coach Lenny Wilkens and ex-Bulls player John Paxson. Two other candidates, Higgins and former interim coach Darrell Walker, accepted front-office jobs in the organization last week.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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