Former CSUN assistant Tifft takes over as Head Coach at D2 Cal Poly Humboldt

Cal Poly Humboldt Athletics Director, Dr. Nick Pettit, announced the hiring of Chris Tifft as the new Head Men’s Basketball Coach. This appointment follows a national search assisted by Dr. Kurt Patberg from Mammoth Sports Consulting. Tifft possesses nearly three decades of experience coaching at the collegiate ranks, where he most recently served as the assistant coach at California State University Northridge.

“Chris Tifft is an outstanding fit for our university, athletic department, and community,” said Pettit.  “His coaching and teaching experience, commitment to academic excellence and desire to create a championship culture and experience for our student-athletes made him the clear choice for Cal Poly Humboldt.”

During his time on the sidelines, Tifft has coached in the Big West Conference, Western Athletic Conference, Big 12 Conference, Atlantic 10 Conference and Mid-American Conference while he has also served as a head coach for eight seasons at the junior college level. 

“I am excited and honored to be the new head coach of Cal Poly Humboldt Men’s Basketball,” said Tifft. “I want to thank President Jackson and Dr. Nick Pettit for the opportunity to lead this storied and proud program. I truly believe there has never been a more exciting time to be part of the Cal Poly Humboldt campus and community.”

Tifft has coached 16 seasons at the Division I level as an assistant with stops that included the University of Nevada (1996-2001), Texas Christian University (2012-2016), Saint Louis University (2016-2019), and Central Michigan University (2019-2021) prior to CSU Northridge (2021-2023).

Throughout his eight seasons as a head coach (2004-2012), Tifft led teams at Lamar Community College (2004-2009) and New Mexico Junior College (2009-2012) where he has a combined record of 158-94 (95-35 in year three or later). 

During Tifft’s coaching career, he has recruited or coached a total of 2 NJCAA All-Americans, 42 All-Conference and Region selections, 4 Academic All-Americans, and 17 Academic All-Conference selections. 

Tifft expressed his vision for the new direction of Lumberjack basketball, stating, “Our program will be built on three key principles; Competitive Greatness, Academic Achievement, and Community Service. We will work extremely hard to build a basketball program that focuses on a positive student-athlete experience and one that the university and community can rally behind. Our goal is to compete for CCAA championships and participate in the NCAA Tournament.” 

Before his most recent stint as assistant coach under Trent Johnson at CSU Northridge, Tifft spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Central Michigan University under Keno Davis. In his first season on the sidelines, the Chippewas ranked first in the Mid-American Conference and 21st nationally in scoring (78.6 points per game) and ninth in the nation in steals per game (9.1).  

Tifft served as the special assistant to Saint Louis University head coach Travis Ford from 2016-19 where he helped the program capture the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship and earn an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2019. During his three seasons at SLU, Tifft helped the Billikens pick up marquee wins over such programs as Virginia Tech, Butler, Seton Hall and Oregon State.  

Tifft came to Saint Louis in 2016, following four seasons as a member of the men’s basketball staff at TCU, including the final two as an assistant coach.  

While at TCU, Tifft aided in the Horned Frogs’ transition to the Big 12 Conference in 2012-13. That season saw the program record four wins over teams that advanced to postseason play, including a 62-55 decision over No. 5 Kansas, the school’s first-ever victory against a top-five opponent. In 2013, Tifft helped the Horned Frogs land their best recruiting class in history, a group rated by ESPN as the 34th best class in the nation.  

Before arriving at TCU in 2012, Tifft spent three seasons as the head coach at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, N.M. Tifft led the Thunderbirds to 58 wins in his three seasons (2009-12), improving their win total each year. The Thunderbirds concluded the 2011-12 season with a 23-9 record and a second-place finish in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference, the program’s best finish in 14 seasons.  

Prior to NMJC, Tifft led Lamar Community College (Col.) to a 100-62 record in five seasons as head coach (2004-2009). From 2007-2009, the Runnin’ Lopes posted three consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time since 1969. Tifft was named the 2009 District 9 Coach of the Year after leading the program to its first ever Region IX championship and first ever appearance in the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. d.   

Tifft’s coaching career began at his alma mater, the University of Nevada. While at Nevada, Tifft worked as an assistant on the staffs of both Pat Foster and Trent Johnson. The Wolf Pack’s 1997 squad won 21 games and participated in the postseason NIT, winning a first-round game over Fresno State. During his five years at Nevada, Tifft coached seven All-Conference selections and helped the Wolf Pack transition from the Big West Conference to the WAC.  

Tifft began his collegiate playing career as a shooting guard at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo. While at TRCC, Tifft helped lead his 1993-94 team to a 33-5 record, a Region XVI championship and an appearance in the NJCAA National Championship game. During his time at Three Rivers, Tifft played for the winningest coach in the history of college basketball across any level, Gene Bess, who has 1,300 career wins.  

After leaving Three Rivers, Tifft continued his collegiate playing career at the University of Nevada in Reno. Over two seasons, the Wolf Pack won 34 games and made an appearance in the Big West Tournament Championship game in 1995.  

Tifft earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Nevada in 1996 and a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Nevada in 1999. Originally from Macomb, Ill., Tifft is married to the former Heather Davis of Carson City, Nev. The couple has a 16 year old daughter, Kamryn.

Tagged with: