Former Villanova assistant coach Joseph Jones was named the new head coach of the Columbia men’s basketball team Saturday, filling the vacancy created when Armond Hill was fired following the Lions’ 2-25 season. Jones becomes the 20th head coach in school history, and joins his brother, Yale head coach James Jones, as the first pair of siblings to coach in the Ivy League since 1928.
Jones had been an assistant coach at Villanova since 1997, serving under head coaches Steve Lappas and Jay Wright. Prior to that, he was an assistant for four years at Hofstra under Wright.
“He’s got a great passion for the game,” Wright told the Columbia Spectator. “I think Columbia is lucky because they’re getting a hard-working, passionate guy. We are going to miss him.”
Jones emerged from an extensive search that drew national attention. Personalities such as basketball hall-of-famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former Duke standout Bobby Hurley, and New York Knicks assistant Mike Malone all received interviews with Columbia athletic director John Reeves.
“I think its a teriffic hire,” said Cornell head coach Steve Donahue, who coached against Jones while he was the top assistant at Penn.
“They picked out a guy who has a good feel for the Ivy League, especially with his New York roots.”
A native of Long Island, Jones graduated from Half Hollow Hills West High School before attending SUNY-Oswego. He also served as the head coach at Comsewogue High School on Long Island from 1991 until his appointment at Hofstra in 1994.
In addition to the task of resurrecting a Lions squad that finished 0-14 in Ivy play this past season, Jones will have the unique challenge of coaching against his brother.
“Because the games mean so much, to play your brother twice a year … is going to be very painful,” said Donahue. “I don’t envy them at all.”
Jones will be introduced to the media tomorrow.
Archived article by Owen Bochner