Christian was candidate for Nebraska hoops coach

Heather Scarlett

Kent State basketball coach Jim Christian yells out plays to players during the March 9th game at Kent State University at the M.A.C. Center. ALLIEY BENDER | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

Recent media reports have speculated that Kent State men’s basketball coach Jim Christian may be leaving the Golden Flashes for the University of Nebraska.

Nebraska was looking for a coach to replace Barry Collier, who recently accepted a position as athletic director at Butler.

“High on Nebraska’s list are Nevada’s Mark Fox, a former Kansas State assistant, and Kent State’s Jim Christian,” reported

Athletic Director Laing Kennedy denied the rumor, saying that there has been no official contact from Nebraska.

Christian was not available for comment on the issue, though he told the Akron Beacon Journal on Monday that he planned to be at Kent State when the 2006 season started.

Steve Pederson, athletic director at Nebraska, was said to have three names in mind as potential candidates for the coaching position, one of which was Christian.

Christian started with Kent State as an assistant coach in 2002 and was promoted to head coach in 2003. He is under contract with Kent State until March 2013, under which he earns $250,000 a year, Kennedy said.

If Nebraska did want to hire Christian — regardless of the contract — Kent State would not be able to afford to keep him, Kennedy said.

“We would not be in a position to compete with what Nebraska could pay,” Kennedy said, adding that Nebraska could offer between $600,000 and $800,000.

“Mark,” an incoming freshman vying for a spot on Christian’s team, who did not wish to be named, said he thinks Nebraska will try to get Christian because of the things Christian has accomplished at Kent State.

Kennedy said that if Christian does leave Kent State, the university would be able to get another head coach because of Kent State’s strong basketball program.

On Tuesday, Nebraska announced its final decision to hire Kenneth “Doc” Sadler, former head basketball coach at UTEP, for the position.

Contact general assignment reporter Heather Scarlett at [email protected].