Assistant coach headed for Columbia

Cailin Brophy

Columbia University announced the hiring of Villanova assistant coach Joe Jones as its new head coach of the men’s basketball program. Jones, the only holdover from the Steve Lappas era, ends his six-year run as part of the Wildcat coaching staff and will begin his first head coaching tenure in Division I basketball. “Nova will always be a huge part of me,” Jones said. “It will always be a second home to me.”

Jones will be making a return to his native New York with wife Kristen, a Queens native, and one year-old daughter Sidney. His basketball roots in New York include a stint as an assistant under current Villanova head coach Jay Wright during his tenure at Hofstra University on Long Island. Jones got his start in coaching when he headed the men’s basketball program at Comsewogue High School on Long Island.

Jones will use his experience and exceptional recruiting skills to attempt to revive the Columbia program, which has been residing in the basement of the Ivy League for several years. The Lions went winless (0-14) in their conference this year, finishing with a dismal 2-25 record in what was their 10th consecutive losing season. “It reminds me when I started at Hofstra,” Jones said. “I am looking forward to turning the program around and extending myself to the community and students.”

Coach Jones recognized Wright not only as a great mentor but also as a great friend. “He is one of my best friends and I have a great deal of respect for him,” Jones said. “I will always turn to him for advice and I will miss him dearly.”

Jones will face off against his brother James, who is currently head coach at Ivy-rival Yale.

The Wildcats are left with a significant void to fill, however, they aren’t in any rush to fill the vacancy, given the existence of an already strong supporting staff.