BATON ROUGE (LSU) - Johnny Jones has been relieved of his duties as LSU’s head men’s basketball coach, vice chancellor and director of athletics Joe Alleva announced Friday.
Alleva said the decision was made along with consultation with LSU President Dr. F. King Alexander and leadership on the LSU Board of Supervisors. LSU completed its fifth season under Jones on Wednesday, dropping a 52-79 decision to Mississippi State in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
“Making a coaching change is the hardest thing I do particularly when the coach is a friend and respected alumni of this great university,” said Alleva. “This decision was made with the firm belief that excellence in basketball at LSU is within reach.”
Alleva said a national search for Jones’ replacement would begin immediately although no decision on a new coach would likely come until after the NCAA Tournament is completed in early April. To help with the search, Alleva said they will work with an outside coaching search firm who will assist LSU officials in narrowing down the field.
“This will be a national search,” said Alleva. “We are going after a proven winner and we’re going to use all the expertise and experience we can to find the right person for this job.”
In five years as LSU’s head coach, Jones became the school’s fourth winningest coach in leading the Tigers to a 90-72 overall record, including a 10-21 mark in 2016-17. After opening 2016-17 by winning eight of its first 10 games, LSU dropped 17 of its last 18 contests, going 2-16 in SEC play.
LSU’s best season under Jones came in 2014-15 when the Tigers won 22 games, which included an 11-7 mark in the SEC action. LSU dropped a last-second decision to North Carolina State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament that season.
Jones and the Tigers signed the nation’s No. 1 recruit in Ben Simmons for the 2015-16 season. LSU finished 19-14 with Simmons and missed out on an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Simmons was later selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft joining Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in school history to be taken with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Jones, who graduated from LSU in 1985, was named LSU’s 21st head men’s basketball coach on April 13, 2012, joining the Tigers after 11 seasons as the head coach at North Texas. In 17 years as a head coach at the collegiate level, Jones has produced a 295-234 overall mark. Jones’ head coaching career also includes one season at Memphis where he guided the Tigers to a 15-16 record in 1999-2000 as the interim head coach.
Jones was a four-year letterman for the Tigers from 1980-84 where he helped LSU reach the NCAA Final Four in 1981 as a freshman. Jones got his start in coaching as a student assistant for Dale Brown in 1984-85 and was then elevated to assistant coach the following year. Jones remained on the LSU staff until 1997 when he took an associate coach position at the University of Memphis.
In five years at LSU, Jones saw 13 of his players earn their college degree and four players were picked in the NBA Draft.
“Johnny’s contribution to LSU and our community is immeasurable,” said Alleva. “He and his entire family will always be a part of our Tiger family. We wish all of them the best.”