Chris Jans, one of the nation’s premier bench bosses, has been chosen to lead the Mississippi State men’s basketball program. The announcement came Sunday from MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen.
“The Mississippi State Family is thrilled to welcome Chris Jans as our next head coach,” said Cohen. “Throughout our thorough research, what stood out about Coach Jans was his culture of accountability, hard-working mentality, emphasis on player development, and vision for the future. Coach Jans is a proven leader and winner, who is considered by many to be one of the top coaches in the game. He is a tireless recruiter, brilliant Xs and Os tactician, and his overall resume speaks for itself. In 12 years as a head coach at the Division I and JUCO levels, he won 20 or more games in all but one season. He helped build Wichita State into a powerhouse in the mid-2010s, where they averaged 30 wins each of his last four seasons, including a Final Four appearance and a 35-0 start in his final season. We’re pleased to welcome him, his wife Sheri, his son Nick and daughter Maddie to the Bulldog Family.”
Jans ushered in an unprecedented run of success over the last five seasons at New Mexico State where “The Man” guided the Aggies to a 122-32 record fueled by three NCAA Tournament trips.
Most recently, New Mexico State pulled a patented 12-5 upset over Connecticut during the 2022 Big Dance in Buffalo, New York. Jans led the Aggies to the program’s first win in the NCAA Tournament since 1993. In the Round of 32, the Aggies held No. 4 seed Arkansas to season lows in both points (53) and field-goal percentage (.275).
Jans owns an impressive .765 winning percentage (143-44) through his six seasons as an NCAA Division I head men’s basketball coach. The .765 clip is fourth nationally among active head coaches only behind Gonzaga’s Mark Few (.837), Kansas’ Bill Self (.768) and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (.766). Jans’ 143 career wins is one of the highest totals for a head coach over his first six seasons in NCAA history.
Jans’ program has been the WAC’s standard bearer racking up four regular season championships and three WAC Tournament titles. The Aggies have been nearly unbeatable in the WAC since his arrival and amassed a 64-13 record in conference games. The .831 clip is the second-highest conference winning percentage in the nation since 2017-18.
Jans, a three-time WAC Coach of the Year, hit the 25-plus wins plateau during each of his first three seasons at New Mexico State. He is one of eight active NCAA Division I head coaches to accomplish the feat. The prestigious list is headed by Few, Self and Kentucky’s John Calipari.
Protecting its home floor has been a staple of Jans’ success. New Mexico State defended the Pan American Center with a 61-7 record (.897) sparked by 32-game winning streak over WAC opponents.
The Aggies have been showered with numerous awards and accolades. Jemerrio Jones was tabbed the 2017-18 WAC Player of the Year and Teddy Allen captured the 2021-22 WAC Player of the Year. Allen had a performance for the ages with a 37-point performance during New Mexico State’s 70-63 victory over the Huskies in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Jans started his coaching career as an assistant coach at NCAA Division III Elmhurst College and NAIA Grande View College from 1991-96. He earned his first head coaching opportunity when he took the reigns at NJCAA Division II Kirkwood Community College in 1996-97.
Jans was named the Region XI Coach of the Year after guiding the Eagles to a 25-10 season, which included a conference title and the program’s first-ever national tournament appearance. He followed up his rookie season with a 31-6 campaign highlighted by Kirkwood capturing the NJCAA Division II National Championship and Jans being named the National Coach of the Year.
Sandwiched in between his time at Independence Community College (1998-99) and Howard College (2001-03), Jans got his first taste of the Division I level as an assistant coach at Idaho (1999-2001) under David Farrar.
After Howard, he took over at Chipola Junior College and joined forces with Greg Heiar – who played for Jans in his first season as a head coach at Kirkwood CC and was a fellow assistant coach at Wichita State. Success continued to follow Jans as he led Chipola JC to its first conference title in a decade while finishing sixth at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament and finished 32-5 overall.
Jans returned to the Division I level, this time as an assistant coach at Illinois State (2004-07) on Porter Moser’s staff before joining Gregg Marshall at Wichita State (2007-14).
The Shockers built the foundation of seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with a 2010-11 NIT Championship which featured victories over Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Charleston, Washington State and Alabama.
Jans was instrumental in landing Ron Baker, a future All-American and NBA player, who helped guide WSU to its deep run to the NCAA Tournament Final Four in 2013.
The Shockers broke a lot of brackets that season, taking down Pittsburgh and the overall No. 1 seed Gonzaga to reach the Sweet 16 before taking down a hot La Salle and Ohio State team to earn Wichita State its first NCAA Final Four appearance since 1965.
In the final season of his first stint with the Shockers, Jans helped Wichita State set an NCAA record with a 35-0 start to the 2013-14 season. During that stretch, WSU ran through the Missouri Valley and became the first program to go undefeated in nearly 30 years.
The magical season also saw Fred VanVleet, Cleanthony Early and Baker earn first-team all-conference selections while Early and VanVleet notched All-America honors on top of VanVleet adding MVC Player of the Year to his mantle of awards.
Jans coordinated one of the nation’s best turnarounds in 2014-15 as the head man at Bowling Green. He took the Falcons program that lost 20 games in 2013-14 and guided it to a record-setting 21-12 overall mark in 2014-15.
With the 21 wins, Jans became the first head coach in Falcons history to lead the team to 20 wins or more in his first year at the helm. The 2014-15 campaign also saw Jans lead BGSU to its first national postseason tournament victory since 1975 when the Falcons defeated Saint Francis (Pa.) in the 2015 Collegeinsider.com Tournament (CIT).
The historic season was capped by Jans being chosen by his peers as the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ (NABC) top first-year head coach with the 2015 Joe B. Hall National Coach of the Year award.
Jans was a three-year starter at Loras College (1987-91) and was named a captain as a senior. During his time in Dubuque, Iowa, he helped the Duhawks break 16 scoring records and two NCAA Division III records for three-point shooting.
A graduate of Loras College in 1991, Jans earned his bachelor’s degrees in marketing and in finance. He and his wife Sheri have two kids, Nick and Maddie Gazda.
The Chris Jans File
Seasons • School • Years at School
1996-98 • Kirkwood CC • 2 Seasons
1998-99 • Independence CC • 1 Season
2001-03 • Howard College • 2 Seasons
2003-04 • Chipola College • 1 Season
2014-15 • Bowling Green • 1 Season
2017-22 • New Mexico State • 5 Seasons
NCAA Division I Record • 6 Seasons • 143-44 • .765
NJCAA Record • 6 Seasons • 159-45 • .779
Seasons • School • Years at School
1991-94 • Elmhurst College • 3 Seasons
1994-96 • Grand View College • 2 Seasons
1999-2001 • Idaho • 2 Seasons
2004-07 • Illinois State • 3 Seasons
2007-14 • Wichita State • 7 Seasons
Seasons • School • Years at School
2015-17 • Wichita State • 2 Seasons