William McCormack

Yale has signed head men’s basketball coach James Jones to a contract extension through 2026, Director of Athletics Vicky Chun announced per a press release Thursday afternoon.

Jones, the winningest coach in school history and the longest tenured coach in the Ivy League, concluded his 20th season at the helm this past season with the Ancient Eight regular season and postseason titles as well as a trip to March Madness. With the extension, Yale locks up Jones for the next seven seasons about a month after he emerged as a candidate for a Big East coaching vacancy at St. John’s.

“I’m extremely pleased and honored to receive a contract extension of this length with the confidence and belief from our Director of Athletics Vicky Chun and our President Peter Salovey,” Jones said in the release.

The Long Island native surpassed Hall of Fame coach Joe Vancisin’s previous record of 204 victories in 2014 and will enjoy the chance to further his legacy in New Haven with the extension. Jones helped Yale to its first-ever NCAA tournament victory in 2016, an upset of No. 5-seed Baylor, and has led the Bulldogs to 102 wins over the past five seasons, the most of any Ancient Eight program.

The 2015 and 2016 Ivy League Coach of the Year, Jones earned his 300th career win in a 79–71 home contest against Brown in January and now owns 310 career victories, tied with former Penn coach Fran Dunphy for the second most in conference history. He most recently received the 2019 Ben Jobe Award as the top minority coach in Division I men’s basketball.

The sustained success has attracted national attention for the Yale coach. Jones appeared as a guest analyst on CBS Sports Network’s March Madness 360 show earlier in the spring and interviewed with St. John’s athletic director Mike Cragg for their head coaching vacancy in mid-April. Former Arkansas coach Mike Anderson ultimately got the job, but the Power Five interest served as a testament to his prowess.

A few hours after Yale announced Jones’s extension, star guard Miye Oni ’20 participated in drills and scrimmages at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. Oni, who declared as an early entrant for the 2019 NBA draft in late March, received one of 66 invitations to the annual pre-draft combine. Jones told the News he was in attendance Thursday afternoon.

At one point, in fact, it appeared as if Oni had officially decided to remain in the draft, effectively ending his Yale career.

Jeff Goodman, college basketball analyst for Stadium, reported a little before 5:30 p.m. that Oni had notified Yale head coach James Jones of the guard’s decision to remain in the draft and forego his final season of eligibility with the Elis.

“Yale’s Miye Oni told @Stadium that he informed coach James Jones that he will be staying in the NBA Draft,” wrote Goodman on Twitter.

But both Oni and Jones told the News that Goodman was mistaken. According to the two, the Bulldog wing has not yet made a final decision on his draft status. Oni told Jones earlier that his intention is to stay in the draft while currently retaining his eligibility. The two also saw each other at the combine Thursday afternoon according to Jones.

If drafted on June 20, Oni will become the first Ivy League athlete picked in the draft since the Minnesota Timberwolves selected former Penn guard Jerome Allen in 1995.

William McCormack | william.mccormack@yale.edu