MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin Athletics Director Julio Freire announced this morning that Jason James will not return as the head coach of the Skyhawk men’s basketball program.
James had been a member of the UT Martin men’s basketball program for the last 12 seasons, including the last five as head coach. He sported an overall record of 37-117, including a 15-69 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play.
“I would like to personally thank Coach James for his 12 years of service to the UT Martin men’s basketball program,” Freire said. “He conducted the program with the highest degree of integrity. This was a tough decision to make. I took a hard look at how the program has developed over Coach James’ five years as the head coach from several different angles – recruiting, player development, postseason success, in short – the comprehensive success of the program. In the end, I felt that I needed to recommend to Chancellor Rakes that we move in a new direction. It is my responsibility to provide our student-athletes with the best opportunities to reach their fullest potential academically, athletically and socially.”
James reached the OVC Tournament twice (2010-11, 2012-13) in his five-year tenure. In 2011, the Skyhawks won their first round game and advanced to the round-of-six in the league tournament. During his UT Martin head coaching tenure, he oversaw five of the program’s 18 all-time 1,000 career point scorers.
Joining the Skyhawks as an assistant coach before the 2002-03 season, James eventually worked his way up to the role of associate head coach during UT Martin’s first-ever OVC championship season in 2008-09. James is credited with recruiting two of the Skyhawks’ most successful players in the Division-I era in Jared Newson (2003-06) and Lester Hudson (2007-09).
Freire announced that the university has begun a national search process to hire a new coach.
“There are many characteristics that I am looking for in a new coach,” Freire said. “I want to find a person of great character and integrity, a proven success record, tremendous recruiting ties, a successful history working with the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate and a person who will be a fit in the wonderful Martin community. Out of respect for our outgoing coach, current student-athletes and prospective coaches, I will not be commenting about the search until we introduce our new coach.”