Christian leaves Kent State for Texas Christian

Doug Gulasy

WATCH video of student reaction to Christian leaving.

The Jim Christian era at Kent State has ended.

Christian, the men’s basketball coach at Kent State for six seasons, left this weekend to become the coach at Texas Christian University.

“My wife and I are both honored and excited about this opportunity,” Christian said at his TCU introductory press conference Saturday. “It’s just something so special at a special university.”

Christian led the Flashes to at least 20 wins in each of his six seasons and had a 138-58 overall record. His winning percentage of .704 is the best in Mid-American Conference history.

He led the Flashes to the postseason five times (two NCAA Tournament appearances and three National Invitational Tournament appearances).

“The last six years have been an incredible run under Jim and we have every intention to keep the jewel of our athletic program moving forward,” Kent State Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said in a statement. “We wish Jim and his family nothing but success at TCU.”

TCU fired its previous coach, Neil Dougherty, on March 16 after he led the Horned Frogs to a 14-16 record this season. In his six seasons at TCU, he had one winning season.

The Horned Frogs wanted to find a coach who would lead them to a different result, and they tabbed Christian as that coach.

“We were looking for somebody that had a winning program,” TCU Athletic Director Danny Morrison said at a press conference Saturday. “We talk all the time here about the difference of a winning team and a winning program.

“A winning program does it year after year, sustains it and also does things in the long-term interest of a program rather than making quick fixes … We looked across the country, and really the person that we targeted, all you have to do is look at the record there (to see his success).”

Christian, wearing a purple TCU hat with a matching tie Saturday, said it was difficult to leave Kent State but considered TCU a good fit.

“In order to leave a job that really is special in your heart, I think you have to try to find a place that, to me, represents the same thing I want in the players that I coach,” he said.

“The players that I coach, I want us to have the same value system. I want us to understand what’s important to each other. want us to have the same vision. I want us to understand what it is that we’re going to do and have a vision for that and how can we get there.”

Channel 3 (WKYC) reported that Christian would make between $600,000 and $800,000 per season at TCU. His contract at Kent State, extended after the 2005-06 season, was to pay him $250,000 a season through 2011-12.

TCU plays in the Mountain West Conference, which has gotten multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past seven seasons. In contrast, the Mid-American Conference hasn’t had multiple bids since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Flashes will begin a national search for a new coach.

“We will begin immediately the process to find our next basketball coach and Jim has committed to aid in the transition in any way he can,” Kennedy said.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].