Jones Dismissed as Men's Basketball Head Coach
Sr. Assoc. Athletic Director/SID
Alleva said the decision was made along with consultation with LSU President Dr. F. King Alexander and leadership on the LSU Board of Supervisors. LSU completed its fifth season under Jones on Wednesday, dropping a 79-52 decision to Mississippi State in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
“Making a coaching change is the hardest thing I do particularly when the coach is a friend and respected alumni of this great university,” said Alleva. “This decision was made with the firm belief that excellence in basketball at LSU is within reach.”
Alleva said a national search for Jones’ replacement would begin immediately although no decision on a new coach would likely come until after the NCAA Tournament is completed in early April. To help with the search, Alleva said they will work with an outside coaching search firm who will assist LSU officials in narrowing down the field.
“This will be a national search,” said Alleva. “We are going after a proven winner and we’re going to use all the expertise and experience we can to find the right person for this job.”
In five years as LSU’s head coach, Jones became the school’s fourth winningest coach in leading the Tigers to a 90-72 overall record, including a 10-21 mark in 2016-17. After opening 2016-17 by winning eight of its first 10 games, LSU dropped 17 of its last 18 contests, going 2-16 in SEC play.
LSU’s best season under Jones came in 2014-15 when the Tigers won 22 games, which included an 11-7 mark in the SEC action. LSU dropped a last-second decision to NC State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament that season.
Jones and the Tigers signed the nation’s No. 1 recruit in Ben Simmons for the 2015-16 season. LSU finished 19-14 with Simmons and missed out on an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Simmons was later selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft joining Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in school history to be taken with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Jones, who graduated from LSU in 1985, was named LSU’s 21st head men’s basketball coach on April 13, 2012, joining the Tigers after 11 seasons as the head coach at North Texas. In 17 years as a head coach at the collegiate level, Jones has produced a 295-234 overall mark. Jones’ head coaching career also includes one season at Memphis where he guided the Tigers to a 15-16 record in 1999-2000 as the interim head coach.
Jones was a four-year letterman for the Tigers from 1980-84 where he helped LSU reach the NCAA Final Four in 1981 as a freshman. Jones got his start in coaching as a student assistant for Dale Brown in 1984-85 and was then elevated to assistant coach the following year. Jones remained on the LSU staff until 1997 when he took an associate coach position at the University of Memphis.
In five years at LSU, Jones saw 13 of his players earn their college degree and four players were picked in the NBA Draft.
“Johnny’s contribution to LSU and our community is immeasurable,” said Alleva. “He and his entire family will always be a part of our Tiger family. We wish all of them the best.”
VICE CHANCELLOR AND DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS JOE ALLEVA
Opening statement …
“Good morning. Thank you all for coming out this morning. I met with Coach (Johnny) Jones early this morning and informed him that he was going to be relieved of his duties as our men’s basketball coach. Days like this are not fun. They are the worst part of my job, particularly when you have to deal with a guy who is a friend and a great LSU person. I feel bad that it has ended this way, but I felt like the direction of the program needed a change. We are all about excellence and competing for championships, and we weren’t going in that direction. I wish Johnny the best. I will be moving forward with the search immediately. It will have to take some time though because most of the people that we will talk to will be playing in post-season play. They are not going to really talk to us a whole lot while they are playing. We will do our work, we will do our diligence. We will be talking to agents. We will be looking for the best candidate who will get us in to a situation to where we are in the NCAA Tournament and post-season play on a regular basis. That’s where we are. I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have right now.”
On at what point the program started going in the wrong direction …
“Well, obviously, last year did not come up to our expectations. This year when you lose 19-out-of-21 games, that’s pretty obvious. I think the past two years have been a bit of a disappointment.”
On the financial commitment that LSU will make for basketball and a new head coach …
“That’s a good question, but it’s going to depend on who we hire. My track record is that I’m going to pay people compensatory to what their experience is and what they bring to the table. It will depend on who we hire how much we are going to pay them.”
On the qualifications of the next hire …
“I learned that the word ‘fit’ is a joke. Fit. What’s a fit? If you look at Johnny Jones, you would think he would be the perfect fit. I’m looking for someone who is a proven winner, someone that has won and has experience in the business that can bring enthusiasm and passion to the program. Not saying that Johnny didn’t do that. It just didn’t work out. This is kind of like a marriage. There are a lot of marriages when they start you think it’s the perfect marriage, but they don’t work out. That’s all this is. It’s not someone is a good guy or a bad guy, it just didn’t work out. What I’m looking for is someone who is a proven winner. That’s what I’m looking for.”
On waiting until the end of the season to make the men’s basketball staff adjustment …
“That’s the appropriate thing to do. In this case, it was the appropriate thing to do. Who knows? Maybe he would have won the SEC (Tournament) Championship that just started in Nashville. You wait until the end of the season. That’s the right thing to do.”
On what will attract the future hire to LSU …
“This is LSU. This is a great place. The potential here is phenomenal. I really feel confident that we will get a very good coach here.”
On if he considered a coaching change after turning down the NIT in 2015-16 …
“That was a decision that Coach wanted. He didn’t think we should play in the game, and I wasn’t going to force him to play in the game. That was a part of the disappointment of last year also.”
On how he will search for the new coach …
“I’ll spearhead it. We are in consultation with a search firm. Members of my staff will be heavily involved. We will probably do it very similarly to the way we did the football search. It will be a very similar situation.”
On the status of the assistant coaches …
“They have been dismissed also.”
On who will be in charge of the program for the short-term …
“I’m putting (Deputy Athletic Director) Eddie Nunez in charge of the basketball program in the short-term. Eddie will be running the program for a while.”