Former Bowling Green State University head coach Chris Jans has been hired to lead the program at New Mexico State. BLADE PHOTO
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — New Mexico State on Monday hired former Bowling Green State head coach Chris Jans to lead the Aggies next season.
Athletics director Mario Moccia introduced Jans during a news conference in Las Cruces, saying there was a lot of interest in the job but that Jans was the selection committee’s unanimous pick.
“He is a proven winner,” Moccia said, citing Jans’ record over more than two decades of coaching.
Jans fills the void left by Paul Weir, who was hired last week as the University of New Mexico’s head coach.
Jans led Bowling Green to its first 20-win season in more than a decade and its first post-season win since 1975 in his first year as the head coach there. However, he was fired in 2015 over an incident at a bar near the Ohio school’s campus. Jans at the time had acknowledged acting inappropriately toward female patrons.
On Monday, he didn’t shy away from his past. He said he let down the school and his family and that he has learned from his mistakes. He pointed to himself as an example that actions have consequences and that there can be second chances.
Jans said he understands some Aggie fans might be skeptical.
“All I ask is that you give me a chance,” he said. “Let me earn your respect.”
Jans was recently promoted to associate head coach at Wichita State, where he had worked as an assistant for several years before taking the Bowling Green job in 2014. He also has coached at a number of community and junior colleges during his 25-year career.
He thanked Wichita State for allowing him the opportunity to resurrect his career.
He also said he’s excited about the opportunity to learn from former Aggie coach Lou Henson, who was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015 and divides his time between Las Cruces and Champaign, Illinois.
Henson remains the winningest coach at New Mexico State and Illinois and served as a special adviser during Weir’s tenure.
Over the years, Jans has been exposed to a multitude of playing styles. He plans to design his new program around the players, but he said defense and speed will be part of the foundation.
“I promise you this, we’re going to play hard and we’re going to play smart. I promise you we will do that, and we’ll give great effort every time we step on the floor,” Jans said.