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UAF coach Johnson will take over at Florida A&M

Beth Bragg

Clemon Johnson, who compiled a 28-74 record in four seasons as the UAF men's basketball coach, is headed to Division I -- and to his alma mater.

Johnson, who still owns several records for rebounding at Florida A&M, will return to the Tallahassee school as its head coach, UAF announced Thursday.

"The opportunity to return home is another blessed moment in my life," Johnson said in a statement released by UAF. "(C)oming home to Florida A&M University allows me to continue my growth in my desired profession on another level."

Johnson never reached double-digit victories in any of his seasons in Fairbanks. His best record was 9-16 in 2009-10; this season the Nanooks were 8-17 and boasted the NCAA Division II Player of the Year in Parrish West, who led the nation in scoring.

Johnson played at Florida A&M from 1974-78 and set records that still stand for single-game rebounds (25), single-season rebounds (412) and career rebounds (1,494). He's still ranked among the school's top 20 scorers with 1,381 points.

He played in the NBA for a decade with four teams -- Portland, Indiana, Philadelphia and Seattle -- and was a member of Philadelphia's 1983 championship team. After leaving the NBA in 1988, he went to Italy and played five more seasons of pro ball.

Johnson's coaching career began at the high school level in Florida. He spent one season with the Atlanta Hawks as a coaching intern before taking the UAF job.

Florida A&M has been without a coach for more than a month. The school fired Eugene Harris, who was 46-80 in four seasons, after the Rattlers lost their first-round game in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference tournament in March.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported that assistant coach Mike Jones of Virginia Commonwealth -- a Final Four team this year -- interviewed for the job but turned it down. It also reported that former Florida State coach Pat Kennedy was among the candidates for the job.

Officials at UAF said they hope to name a new coach by the end of the month.

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.


By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com