Only three days after former Ohio coach John Groce left for Illinois, the Bobcats might have already chosen their next head coach.
CBSSports.com reported Sunday night that Texas Christian coach Jim Christian has agreed to become Ohio’s next men’s basketball coach. The Post could not immediately confirm the report.
As of 9 p.m. Sunday, Becky Watts, chief of staff to OU president Roderick McDavis, said she had not heard word of any hiring and deferred comment to Ohio Athletics.
Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations Tom Symonds said he had not been informed of any hiring and that, to his knowledge, the coaching search was continuing.
“We have no comment regarding the coaching search at this time,” Symonds said in a statement.
Christian has 10 years of head coaching experience, including six years at Mid-American Conference member Kent State. He replaced Stan Heath at the helm of the Golden Flashes at the beginning of the 2002–03 season, the year after they went to the Elite Eight and made the deepest NCAA Tournament run ever by a MAC squad.
Under Christian’s guidance, Kent State went 138-58 and made two trips to the NCAA Tournament. Ohio was 5-10 against Kent State during Christian’s tenure.
If the report is accurate, Christian would leave the Horned Frogs on the brink of their move from the Mountain West Conference to the Big 12. During his four years in Fort Worth, Christian’s team posted a 56-73 record, including an 18-44 mark in conference play.
Christian said he has been in contact with Ohio officials but has not been offered the position, according to TCU beat reporter, Stefan Stevenson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram.
“I haven’t been offered a job, and I haven’t accepted a job by Ohio,” Christian told Stevenson.
According to the CBSSports.com report, Christian makes about $600,00 a year at TCU. Groce made $300,000 a year, and Ohio University officials attempted to raise funds that would have been used to offer him a raise to stay in Athens.
Ohio Athletics Director Jim Schaus travelled to New Orleans for this weekend’s Final Four festivities, Symonds said on Friday.
Basketball coaches and athletics personnel often attend the Final Four to take part in meetings in addition to the games. Two other potential coaching candidates — Ohio assistant coach Dustin Ford and Ohio State assistant Jeff Boals — also were in New Orleans this weekend. Stevenson reported that Christian was in Fort Worth Sunday night, not New Orleans.
“I think you’ve got to be open to all candidates, maybe people who directly associate with the program or who might be in the region,” Schaus said during a Thursday news conference to discuss the state of Ohio men’s basketball after Groce’s departure.
Schaus has hired five head coaches, including Groce, since becoming OU’s athletic director.
“I don’t have a specific timeline (for hiring a coach),” Schaus said at Thursday’s news conference. “My philosophy is I think it really needs to move along. I would say that something that would be in the seven- to 10-day range would be realistic.”
The lone tie between Groce and Christian is that they are both former assistant coaches under Herb Sendek, the current head coach at Arizona State University.
CBSSports.com reports that Christian will be introduced as Ohio’s new coach on Tuesday, the day after the NCAA national championship game.