Jones decides against leaving Yale

Yale men’s basketball head coach James Jones has withdrawn his candidacy for the head coaching job at Bradley University.

A day after his tour of the school’s Peoria, Ill., campus, Jones telephoned Bradley Athletics Director Ken Kavanagh Friday afternoon to inform him of his decision. Jones was one of four finalists of for the job, which Bradely awarded to alumnus Jim Les Sunday afternoon.

Jones said he discussed the sitation with his wife and Yale Athletics Director Tom Beckett Friday before making his decision.

“They have a community that is really rich in basketball history,” Jones said of Bradley. “[But] we have something very special here that we have put together. The administrative support of Tom Beckett and [Yale President] Rick Levin shows that the school wants us to succeed.”

Both Beckett and Jones declined to comment on the nature of their Friday conversation and whether or not the third year coach’s contract was discussed.

“The Ivy League does not grant coach of the year honors and things like that, but I think Coach Jones may have done one of the finest coaching jobs in the country this year,” Beckett said. “To know that he wants to stay to work at Yale and continue the job he is doing here is the best news we could get.”

Next year, Jones returns the entire roster of a team that tied for the Ivy League championship and won the first postseason game in Yale basketball history with a 67-65 upset of Rutgers in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. But more than the opportunity for greater success next season, Jones said it was his affection for his players that swayed his decision.

“To look into my kids’ eyes and tell them Coach is going to be leaving — that is not a day I look forward to,” Jones said.

The Peoria Journal Star reported Sunday that Jones had been a front-runner for the $250,000 a year job, along with Michigan State assistant coach Brian Gregory, who also withdrew his name from consideration. Among the four finalists, Jones was the only candidate with head coaching experience at the Division I level.

“[Kavanagh] thought I was in a better situation than the other candidates,” Jones said.

Jones had interviewed with officials from Bradley while attending the Final Four in Atlanta two weekends ago, when he also interviewed for the University of Washington head coaching job that was later filled by former St. Louis University coach Lorenzo Romar.

The St. Louis job is only one vacancy among the annual flurry of coaching changes after the season’s end, but Jones said he has not been contacted by any other schools and is not actively pursuing any openings.

Beckett said that other than Washington and Bradley, no other schools have asked him for permission to talk to Jones.

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