NORMAL — Brian Jones, head basketball coach at North Dakota the past 13 seasons, has resigned that post and been hired as associate head coach at Illinois State, ISU coach Dan Muller announced Wednesday.
Jones is a native of Rock Island who played collegiately at Northern Iowa. He guided North Dakota through its transition from Division II to Division I. His tenure was highlighted by a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2017 when he was named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year.
North Dakota was 12-18 this past season, its first in the Summit League, and went 190-217 overall under Jones. The Hawks were Division II his first two seasons before moving up to Division I.
“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Jones said. “This is a chance to work with a good friend of mine in Dan Muller, who is someone I have tremendous respect for. I think it is a privilege that I can come down and to not only serve a group of young men, but also work with Dan as he continues his program at a strong MVC level.”
Muller likes the qualities Jones brings to his staff, which had a vacancy after Brendan Mullins resigned to become an assistant coach at Southern Illinois.
“I couldn’t be more excited to add Brian to our staff,” Muller said. “I’ve known Brian for a long time and I’ve always respected the level of coach and person that he is. With his experience and success, he will add tremendous value to our staff and program.”
North Dakota had six postseason appearances under Jones, including five in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT), and played in three Big Sky championship games.
“I grew up in Illinois, and this is a chance for me to be closer to family and friends,” he said. “From a personal side we are extremely excited but are equally excited from a professional standpoint.
"The Valley is a conference that I hold true to my heart having played and coached in it. I am very excited that he (Muller) thought of me and thought highly enough of me to take on this opportunity.”
North Dakota played its first year of Division I as an independent and spent the following three years in the Great West Conference. The school later moved to the Big Sky, with Jones’ teams playing in the Big Sky Tournament title game and the CIT in 2014 and 2015.
In the 2016-17 season, the Hawks were 22-10 and 14-4 in conference play, winning the Big Sky Tournament with an overtime victory over Weber State.
Prior to North Dakota, Jones spent seven seasons at Iowa as an assistant coach under Steve Alford. He also was an administrative assistant on Alford’s Missouri State staff for the 1998-99 season.
He earlier had assistant coaching stints at Rock Island Alleman High School and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Jones was a four-year letterman at Northern Iowa, graduating in 1994, and played professionally in Australia and Portugal.
He and his wife, Danna, have sons Jaxson and Jonah, and a daughter, Jersey.