Coming on the heels of one of its worst seasons and a tumultuous spring, Siena College has named its new men’s basketball coach.
“Well, this is an exciting day,” Jamion Christian said.
After days of rumors, the Loudonville, N.Y. private college made it official Wednesday: Jamion Christian, who spent the past six years at Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, will become the 17th head coach in Saints history.
“We’re going to need a lot of people to jump on board,” Christian said. “My pledge to you is that we’re going to have the most enthusiasm. I’m going to lead our program with the most enthusiasm you’ve ever seen.”
With his new team seated nearby, Christian spoke at a press conference joined by college president Brother Ed Coughlin and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan before meeting fans at the team’s home arena, the Times Union Center.
The 36-year-old led the Mount, where he also starred as a player, to two NCAA Tournaments out of the Northeast Conference, on the strength of the “Mount Mayhem” style of play. He has a lifetime record of 101-95.
“And so I’m excited to be your new head coach, and be the person that’s going to sit out in front of you guys, and I’m excited to be the guy who’s going to push you guys to be the very best,” Christian said. “And let’s be excited, because we’re going to turn this page in Siena basketball, we’re going to achieve our own set of history, and we’re going to set a new record that has not been seen before.”
Christian comes to the one-time class of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at a critical time for Siena.
The Saints haven’t been to the dance since 2010, falling one point short in overtime two years ago. Attendance has been down. Star player Nico Clareth left. Siena finished 8-24 this year despite hosting the conference tournament, but that was just the start of the negative headlines.
With three years and more than $1 million left on his contract, fifth-year coach Jimmy Patsos faced an investigation into alleged mistreatment of a student manager. Denying wrongdoing, Patsos resigned under pressure April 13. He was the second straight Siena coach to be forced out with a losing record and no championships following a three-peat by Fran McCaffrey from 2008 to 2010.
It led to a wacky offseason for one of the Capital Region’s top draws that saw everyone from disgraced ex-Louisville coach Rick Pitino to crosstown UAlbany institution Will Brown linked to the opening.
“It’s been really 13 days since we started on a search for a new head coach for Siena men’s basketball, and really just eight days since we first met in person with Jamion Christian,” Siena athletics director John D’Argenio says. “And during that short period of time, there were a number of people who had a genuine interest to lead Siena College basketball. And really, that was very humbling to not only me, our department, but the college and I think the area as well.”
“He was offered the position yesterday morning,” D’Argenio added. “And we negotiated during the day yesterday and came to agreement, which is going to be a great partnership and a great collaboration over the next….long number of years, right?”
The Times Union reported Christian’s contract is for five years.
While Wednesday was a big day for Christian, Saturday might top it: he’s getting married.