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Jim Christian, formerly of Ohio University, has been hired as the new head coach of Boston College’s men’s basketball program, replacing Steve Donahue, who was fired after four seasons at the helm, during which he accrued a 54-76 record and failed to reach the NCAA Tournament once.
The 49-year-old Christian was not among the names initially rumored to be candidates for the job, the most prominent of which was Harvard’s Tommy Amaker, who will stay with the Crimson for an eighth season. In a teleconference, BC Director of Athletics Brad Bates said that he “brings three remarkable traits to Boston College basketball.”
“First, he sincerely cares about his student-athletes and will be a catalyst for their development as basketball players, scholars, servers and leaders, while creating a family culture that brings pride to the BC community. Second, his energy is contagious and his passion inspiring, which will resonate throughout our program. Finally, he is a proven winner with an outstanding winning percentage and three conference championships.”
Christian, a former guard, played under Rick Pitino at Boston University for two years before transferring to Rhode Island, where he reached the Sweet Sixteen as a senior. He played one year of pro basketball in Australia before returning Stateside to begin his coaching career as an assistant at Western Kentucky.
His first head coaching gig was at Kent State. He took over the program in 2002 and stayed with the Golden Flashes for six years, reaching the NIT in his first three seasons and the NCAA Tournament in two of his last three, and going 137-59 overall. Christian was named the MAC Coach of the Year for the 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons. He didn’t have the same success at his next job, at TCU, where he went 56-73 in four years, although he did break a long streak of losing seasons for the Horned Frogs before taking the head coaching post at Ohio.
In Christian’s first season in Athens, the Bobcats won a share of the Mid-American Conference regular season title, but failed to reach the Tournament. Last year Ohio was 25-12 and went to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, where the Bobcats beat Cleveland State and Wright State before losing to VMI in the quarterfinals. Each of the three games was decided by two points.
The Eagles haven’t played in the Big Dance since 2009 and haven’t won a March Madness game since 2007, when they reached the second round. Their most recent postseason appearance came in Donahue’s first season, 2010-11, when they went 1-1 in the NIT. In 2013-14, BC went 8-24 and finished second-to-last in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
On Thursday, after the hiring was made official, Christian opened a Twitter account to show his anticipation of his new job: