JSU athletics director Warren Koegel said Monday the formation of a small search committee is underway and the hiring process is going to move “a little quicker than I originally thought.”
Koegel said he would like to have the new coach hired by the end of June, in time for the July 1 start of recruiting for women’s basketball. That would place on-campus interviews taking place some time within the next two weeks.
Since last week’s announcement of coach Annette Watts’ resignation, the Gamecocks are said to have received nearly 40 inquiries into the vacancy. Koegel said he was offered numerous potential candidates during the Alabama Sports Writers Association banquet over the weekend.
“There are a lot of people who are interested in being a head coach,” Koegel said.
Whoever gets the job will be responsible for changing the culture of the program. The JSU women’s basketball team has lost 20 games or more in six of the last seven years, and the one break in the run was a 19-loss season. Last year’s team went 1-27 and didn’t win until the next to last game of the season.
“It’s wide open,” Koegel said. “We’re going to get the best person for the job, the best fit for Jacksonville Sate.
“We want to make sure that we’re very thorough and looking at everything and check out everybody good because our girls certainly deserve a chance to go out and have a good experience, and they want somebody to come in and lead them.”
Koegel declined to identify individuals being sought for the search committee, although he said senior women’s administrator Tracy Broom – a former JSU women’s basketball standout – and assistant athletics director Greg Bonds would be “very involved.”
GREEN DEAL: An agreement apparently has been reached on a new contract for JSU men’s basketball coach James Green, although nothing has been signed.
Green just completed the third year of a five-year deal that missed a chance to be reviewed after Year Two, a season that included an OVC Tournament victory. He directed the Gamecocks to their winningest season in 10 years this past season.
The new deal is believed to be for five years.
“We have not signed the actual contract, although we’re in agreement,” Koegel said. “I’d rather wait until we sign it (to comment).”
Meanwhile, The Star has confirmed the signing of a second player to Green’s incoming class. Earnest Hunter, a 6-8 forward from East Mississippi CC, will join the Gamecocks after an improved sophomore season, in which he averaged 8.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 41 blocked shots.
Hunter averaged 1.3 points and 1.8 rebounds as a freshman. EMCC head coach Mark White confirmed Hunter’s signing.
Earlier this spring, The Star reported the signing of East Georgia College forward D.J. Felder.
• June is the month for Green’s camps at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
They will hold individual day camp for boys in grades 1-8 June 24-26, an individual skills camp for boys grades 7-12 June 27 and team camps June 28 and 29. Call Garland Wilson at 782-5113.
‘JACK’ DONE: The NCAA has denied a bid to restore the eligibility of Clarence Jackson, meaning the linebacker won’t be playing for the Gamecocks in the fall, athletics director Koegel confirmed.
Jackson was kicked out of school for an academic transgression in 2011, but returned in January 2013 and went through spring practice with new coach Bill Clark while the appeal process progressed. The ruling came down late last week, Koegel said.
“He’s not going to be eligible to play, so we’re trying to help Clarence out,” Koegel said. “We did everything we could. It was an uphill battle because of the nature of what the problem was.
“Any time there’s an academic situation like that, it’s hard to get that changed.”
The Gamecocks may have found answers for Jackson’s spot, however, as former Auburn linebackers Chris Landrum and Harris Gaston announced last week they were transferring to JSU to play in the fall.
Meanwhile, Koegel said the Gamecocks were exploring all options to bring Jackson’s situation to a beneficial end.
“We want him to graduate; he wants to graduate,” Koegel said. “We’re looking at other schools or staying here.”
Jackson was given a second chance to play by former JSU coach Jack Crowe after being dismissed at Ole Miss and became a dynamic player . In seven games in 2011, he had 49 tackles – tied for second on the team – with four tackles for loss, one sack, an interception, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick.
In his first game with the Gamecocks, a 37-21 victory over Georgia State, he had a team-high seven tackles and returned a blocked punt 34 yards for a touchdown.
APR UPDATE: The NCAA is expected to release its academic progress report for all Division I institutions Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Koegel declined to comment in advance – per an NCAA request – but JSU officials have consistently said they expect a positive report.
Speculation is all of the Gamecocks’ teams will be out from under the APR cloud. The men’s basketball team is finally expected to shake a 769 score that has dogged it the last four years and produced its post-season ban and other historical penalties last season.
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.