ODU Athletics

Get the Max With Minium: Jones Receives New Four-Year Contract

August 23, 2018
By ODU Athletics

Written By: Harry Minium 

Old Dominion has signed Jeff Jones to a four-year contract that will keep the veteran basketball coach at the University at least through 2021-22. 

Jones received a raise of about $50,000 per year over the original deal he signed in 2014 and will be among the three highest-paid coaches in Conference USA, according to Dr. Wood Selig, ODU’s athletic director.

He will make $506,974 per year, but $283,000 will come from private resources. No taxpayer money is used for athletics.

He’ll also earn $60,000 for doing pre- and post-game radio shows.

Bonuses based on his team’s performance could increase his income significantly. If ODU goes to the NCAA tournament, for instance, he earns an additional $25,000.

Jones’ prior contract was set to expire after two more seasons. Selig has expressed steadfast support for his coach, but the new deal will do far more than just words to convince fans and recruits that Jones is sticking around.

“This sends an important message to recruits and others that institutionally we are extremely pleased with the leadership and body of work, both academically and competitively, that Jeff has provided during his first five years,” Selig said.

“Virtually every measurable aspect of our program grades highly. And that speaks to the overall quality of his work.”

The contract extension won't be popular among all ODU fans, some of whom are disappointed because the Monarchs haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2011.

I feel their frustration, but the new reality in college basketball is that unless you’re a member of a power league, you have to win your conference tournament to have a reasonable chance of going to the NCAA tournament.

A decade ago, mid majors were claiming nearly half a dozen NCAA bids per year, but last season, Nevada was the only true mid major to be picked by the NCAA committee.

Jones’ record at ODU speaks for itself. He has won an average of almost 23 games per season and hasn’t had a losing season.

Jones is 114-58 at ODU and is 471-345 in 26 seasons of coaching.

Five Seasons at Old Dominion (Overall): 114-58 (.663)
Year Record Comments
13-14 18-18 (.500) Followed a 5-25 season in 2012-13
14-15 27-8 (.771) First Four Out of NCAA Tournament, NIT semifinal
15-16 25-13 (.658) Vegas 16 Championship
16-17 19-12 (.613)
17-18 25-7 (.781) First Four Out of NIT

Academically, his teams have excelled. In 2016-17, the last year for which the NCAA’s APR rankings were announced, ODU had a score of 995. 

A 1,000 is the best possible score on the APR, which tracks whether players are making progress academically. ODU had scores of 990 and 974 the previous two seasons.

Conference USA champions have upset much higher rated teams in the last four NCAA tournaments, but none of the league's 14 schools have claimed an at-large bid since ODU joined in 2013-2014.

In two of Jones’ five seasons, the Monarchs have come within an eyelash of going to the NCAA tournament.

Jones took ODU to the 2016 C-USA championship game, where the Monarchs fell, 55-53, to Middle Tennessee in a heartbreaking loss not decided until the final horn sounded.

A year earlier, a quarterfinal loss to Middle Tennessee appeared to knock the Monarchs out the NCAA tournament. They were among the last four teams eliminated by the NCAA committee.

“He’s been so close, both to the NCAA tournament and the NIT,” Selig said. "And he's competed at the highest level in our league."  

Jones, a former University of Virginia star who coached at his alma mater and American University, took over an ODU program in 2013-14 that was in disarray. The Monarchs had won just five games the previous season, during which ODU's head coach was fired.

Two years later, the Monarchs were 27-8 and advanced to the NIT semifinals in New York thanks to a last-second game-winning shot from Trey Freeman against Murray State.

In 2015-16, the Monarchs lost to Middle Tennessee in the C-USA championship game and finished 25-13 after winning the Vegas 16 Championship postseason tournament.

They fell to 19-12 in 2016-17, but were 25-7 last season, and were among the first four teams eliminated from contention from the NIT. The last two seasons, ODU elected not to go to a postseason tournament other than the NCAA or NIT.

Jones ranks 27th nationally over the last four seasons with 96 victories. ODU is also second to Middle Tennessee in the 14-team league C-USA in overall and conference records the last four seasons.

C-USA Four Year Overall Record Summary
School Overall Record  Overall Winning Pct.
1. Middle Tennessee 97-40 .708
2. Old Dominion 96-40 .706
3. Louisiana Tech 90-45 .667
4. UAB 83-52 .615
5. WKU 80-55 .593
6. Marshall 73-63 .537
7. UTEP 67-62 .519

What makes Jones’ success more impressive is that he did it in part while dealing with surgery and radiation treatments for prostate cancer in 2015. 

I underwent prostate cancer treatments during the last year, and can attest to how difficult it is to function while being undergoing daily radiation. That same year he was honored as Barefoot Coach of the Year for his work for Samaritan’s Feet, which provides poor children with shoes.

He has also spoken publicly about his cancer, not an easy thing for the shy, reserved Owensboro, Ky, native to do, in order to encourage men to get tested for the disease.

Selig cited Jones’ work with the National Association of Basketball Coaches, of which he was president two years ago, and his team's academic success during an interview.

“Jeff is an excellent ambassador for our University,” he said. “He is nationally respected among his coaching peers for his history of coaching success, knowledge of the game and leadership within the profession.

“We are fortunate to have Jeff leading our program. His commitment to integrity and success is second to none.”

Jones has also tried to connect more in the public in the last year in an effort to increase ODU fan support. He spoke passionately at last spring’s Big Blue Barbecue about how much he appreciates ODU’s attendance, which is generally first or second in the conference.

ODU enrolled five new players in the offseason, including three freshmen rated 3-star recruits by ESPN, and two transfers.  

Jones said he wasn't comfortable speaking about specifics of his contract, but expressed his appreciation in a brief statement.

“I am grateful to President John R. Broderick and Wood Selig for this opportunity,” he said. “My wife, Danielle, and I love Old Dominion and love living in this community.

“I am extremely proud of our accomplishments the past five years on and off the court. I can’t wait to get started on the upcoming season and build on that success.”

A new contract certainly will help.

One last thought on Jones: Several months ago, when I was a columnist at The Virginian-Pilot, I wanted to write a column urging ODU to give Jones a contract extension. I wondered what was taking ODU so long to get it done.

However, because I had discussed a potential job with ODU, my bosses determined, correctly, that it would be a conflict of interest for me to write anything about Jones.

So I'll say it now: I believe Selig did the right thing when he gave Jones an extension.

Anyone who wins 23 games per year, and whose players are rock stars in the classroom, deserves it.

Email Minium: hminium@odu.edu


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