Updated at 4:30 p.m.:
GREENSBORO — N.C. A&T and former men’s basketball coach Jay Joyner have officially parted ways, and Will Jones is the clear front-runner to become the Aggies’ next coach.
The university announced Joyner’s resignation this afternoon “effective immediately.”
Joyner, the 2018 MEAC coach of the year, was suspended indefinitely in late December. Since then, no one at the university would discuss Joyner nor a reason for his suspension other than to call it “an ongoing personnel matter.”
He leaves with a 50-72 record in three full and two partial seasons, twice reaching the MEAC Tournament semifinals.
Joyner had two years left on his contract, which payed an annual salary of $165,000, and as part of the resignation settlement, he'll receive a year's pay.
“North Carolina A&T athletics is appreciative of the dedication coach Joyner contributed to the men’s basketball program first as an assistant and then as a head coach,” A&T athletics director Earl Hilton said in a news release. “We wish him all the best going forward.”
Joyner’s last game as A&T’s coach was a 76-64 loss at Wake Forest on Dec. 21, the Aggies’ sixth loss in seven games since a victory over Nicholls in a Thanksgiving trip to the Jamaica Classic tournament.
Top assistant Jones was abruptly promoted to interim head coach on Christmas Eve, a few days before a loss at Illinois.
But the Aggies then flourished under Jones’ up-tempo style. They went 14-4 after Jan. 1, finishing second in the conference standings. A&T (17-15) had reached the semifinals of the MEAC Tournament when the season was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jones was named MEAC coach of the year.
A&T’s board of trustees meets Thursday, and it’s likely that Jones will have the interim tag removed and become the Aggies 11th head coach since 1952.
Jones is certainly Hilton’s choice. The athletics director said today that he was impressed with how Jones held the team together in difficult circumstances, and with the five-man recruiting class he was able to assemble despite the interim tag.
Jones also has experience as an assistant in the Big South, the Aggies’ new conference in the 2021-22 school year.
Jones was A&T's associate head coach when he took over the program.
“It makes the most sense logistically and from a motivational standpoint to name him,” Hilton said at the time. “He’s got the right rapport with the young men, and he’s in the best position to continue moving us forward in all aspects of basketball. … The continuity was critical. Absolutely critical.”
Even so, A&T received 19 unsolicited resumés after Joyner’s suspension, Hilton said today.
So although the job was never posted, Hilton and a small committee of A&T hall of famers, alumni and trustees reviewed “those 19 legitimate applicants,” Hilton said.
“We vetted those,” Hilton said, “and we got that down to a group of six we looked at closely. … We had some pretty strong candidates, some from Power Five schools. And we have Will, who has done a great job in difficult circumstances.”
Joyner, too, took over the A&T program in difficult circumstances in late January 2016, when Cy Alexander stepped down for health reasons. Joyner went 5-5 as the interim coach, got the full-time job and went 3-29 in a humbling first full season.
But Joyner’s Aggies bounced back with a 20-15 record, one of the most remarkable one-year turnarounds in NCAA history, then went 19-13 in his last full season. Both those teams reached the MEAC semifinals.
Joyner’s original contract signed April 22, 2016, ran through June 30, 2020, and paid a base salary of $125,000. He received a two-year extension through June 2022 and pay raises after his successful seasons.
Posted at 1:35 p.m.
GREENSBORO — N.C. A&T is expected to announce as soon as today that it has reached an agreement to part ways with former men’s basketball coach Jay Joyner.
Joyner, the 2018 MEAC coach of the year, was suspended indefinitely in December for reasons no one at the university would discuss.
Will Jones was promoted to interim head coach, and the Aggies went 14-4 the rest of the way, finishing second in the conference standings. A&T had reached the semifinals of the MEAC Tournament when the season was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jones was named MEAC coach of the year. A&T’s board of trustees meets Thursday, and it’s likely that Jones will have the interim tag removed and become the Aggies head coach.