Jankovich, who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Texas-Pan American in 1983, has made assistant coaching stops at Texas, Colorado State, Baylor, and Oklahoma State. He then took over the head coaching job at North Texas from 1993-97 before moving on to Hutchinson for two years. Jankovich, who next served as the Vanderbilt associate head coach from 1999-2002, joined Bill Self’s coaching staff as an assistant at Illinois in 2002-03 before moving with Self to Kansas.
So now, this former K-State star (1982 graduate) and one of the winningest players in Wildcat history, will be back on the bench calling the shots for the Redbirds.
“We are all so happy and proud for Tim and his family that he has accepted this appointment,” Self said. “Illinois State is a great job with a terrific basketball tradition. They have been to the NCAA Tournament many times, and I am sure it won’t be long before the Redbirds will return to the tournament.”
Illinois State fired head coach Porter Moser on March 5 over a “lack of progress” with the basketball program. Moser’s Redbirds went just 15-16 this season and 51-67 in four seasons at the school. His winning percentage was the third lowest by a Redbird head coach, and in Missouri Valley Conference play, Moser recorded just a 22-50 (.306) record. That’s the lowest four-year mark since Illinois State joined the conference in 1981.
Now it’s Jankovich’s turn to revive the program and bring it to new heights like former KU assistant and current Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings did in his first head coaching job at Illinois State from 1994-99. Stallings, who averaged 21 wins a season, posted a 123-63 record at Illinois State. He took the Redbirds to two NCAA Tournaments and two NIT appearances, and became the first men's basketball coach in Missouri Valley Conference history to win consecutive regular season and conference tournament titles in 1997 and 1998.
Self is confident Jankovich will thrive in his new position after all he’s done at KU and in 24 years in the coaching profession.
“We are all very appreciative of Tim’s effort at Kansas,” Self said. “He is without a question one of the brightest coaches in the game. I have been blessed to be around many great assistant coaches, and Tim is as talented as any of them. Tim did not want this to be a distraction for our team, so getting it out now rather than having it leak out was best. Otherwise, he would have been answering questions about this while preparing our team for San Jose (in the Sweet 16).”
“We all know he is the new coach at Illinois State, but his job here is unfinished until our season is complete,” Self added. “Our players were informed this could happen on Monday, and I’m sure all will be excited for Tim, Cindy and Michael.”