|Jankovich to join Brown at Southern Methodist|
|Written by Ashley Schrader and Emily Warner, Daily Vidette Sports Editors|
|Thursday, 26 April 2012 17:28|
The “Jankovich Era,” as ISU men’s basketball head coach Tim Jankovich’s time with the Redbirds has come to be known, officially came to an end Thursday when he announced he will leave Normal, Ill., for a coach-in-waiting position at Southern Methodist University.
The five-year Redbird coach will join newly announced SMU head coach Larry Brown, the sixth-winningest coach in NBA history, in the 2012–13 basketball season, when the Mustangs make the transition from Conference USA to the Big East.
“It hurts a little bit to have coach Jankovich leaving, but we understand that he has the opportunity to join a hall of famer,” ISU guard John Wilkins said. “We are happy for him, but we are just going to move on and try to be a contender for the conference and go to the NCAA tournament.”
The men’s basketball team gathered for a meeting Thursday afternoon, when Jankovich broke the news to the senior-less squad, although it did not come as a complete shock to the Redbirds.
“He let us know what was going on and the possibility was there,” ISU forward Jon Ekey said. “He likes to keep us informed of what he’s doing because he’s a straight up guy like that. He really cares about us. So he let us know and kind of kept us in the loop for the most part of what was going on, so it wasn’t a huge shock.”
The sadness to see their head coach depart, however, is still there, especially for soon-to-be senior Jackie Carmichael.
“I was disappointed for sure, but I respect coach’s decision and what he has to do and at the end of the day I love coach a lot and he knows that,” Carmichael said. “It was great in the three years I was able to get coached by him, it was great.”
Jankovich led ISU to a 21-14 record this past season, but drew national attention when the Redbirds upset nationally ranked Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference semifinal game, almost defeating Creighton in the championship game.
The attention led to rumors surfacing about Jankovich leaving ISU for Kansas State, but dissipated when Bruce Weber was announced the Wildcats’ coach.
And when Brown took the head coach position with SMU April 19, reports surfaced that Jankovich was being considered as coach-in-waiting to the 71-year-old Brown, of which Jankovich accepted Thursday.
“We certainly thank [Jankovich] for his service here, and I certainly want to wish Tim, his wife Cindy, and his son Michael all the best to their future,” ISU athletic director Gary Friedman said.
“This program is in really, really good shape,” Friedman continued. “I think we all look forward to next year. Our team is looking forward to next year and there is going to be a great, great future for Illinois State basketball.”