NORMAL – Three years ago, Kansas State looked toward Illinois State when it was searching for an athletic director.
It seems the Wildcats may be at it again.
Various media outlets are reporting that ISU basketball coach Tim Jankovich could be on Kansas State’s short list to replace Frank Martin, who resigned as the Wildcats’ head coach and accepted the same post at South Carolina on Tuesday.
Jankovich is a Kansas State graduate who played for three years for the Wildcats from 1979-82. He is a native of Manhattan, Kan., where the Wildcats’ campus is located.
“My policy has always been that I will only ever talk about the job I have and that is Illinois State,” said Jankovich on Tuesday.
Kansas State tried to lure another alum, then-ISU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, in 2009. Zenger declined and was later named Kansas’ AD in January 2011.
Jankovich has compiled a 104-64 record in five seasons as ISU’s coach after being hired from Kansas where he was an assistant under Bill Self. The Redbirds have gone to the National Invitation Tournament four times under Jankovich, advancing to the second round last week before losing in overtime at Stanford.
The Redbirds have advanced to three Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship games under Jankovich, losing in overtime in both 2009 and earlier this month to Creighton. Jankovich is the only coach in Valley history to take his first two teams to the tournament title game (2008-09).
ISU, which compiled a 21-14 record this season and tied for third place in the Valley at 9-9, will return its entire roster next season when it figures to be picked to finish second in the league behind Creighton. The Redbirds have not advanced to the NCAA Tournament since 1998, the longest drought of any Valley school.
“He’s doing a great job here. I’m excited about the future of Illinois State basketball and next year’s team specifically,” said ISU athletic director Gary Friedman. “I know he loves this team. It had great chemistry and finished so strong.
“I don’t want to speculate in regard to media reports, but I think Tim’s done a great job here and did this year. I’m looking forward to building on that and to a successful future.”
Kansas State athletic director John Currie said during a news conference in Manhattan on Tuesday he has already begun a search to find Martin’s replacement, but “no timetable” for selecting a new coach has been set.
Martin went 117-54 in five seasons as Kansas State’s coach, advancing to the NCAA tourney four times. The Wildcats lost to Syracuse in the NCAA’s third round earlier this month. Ironically, the only time that Kansas State didn’t go to the NCAA tourney under Martin it beat ISU, 83-79, in overtime in a 2009 NIT first-round game.
Kansas State, which tied for third in the Big 12 Conference this season, returns all but one scholarship player next season and is building a new basketball practice facility.
“We have everything a coach needs to win here at Kansas State,” said Currie.
Randy Kindred contributed to this report.