FARGO — Jory Collins was a successful head women's basketball coach at the NCAA Division II level. North Dakota State is banking he can do the same thing in Division I.
The Bison named the University of Kansas assistant as the school's next head coach on Monday. He'll be in charge of bringing a once-proud program back to being a contender again.
Collins just finished his first season as the Jayhawks' assistant after spending eight seasons as the head coach at Emporia State (Kan.). He led the Lady Hornets to seven 20-win seasons and six trips to the NCAA Division II tournament. He was an assistant in 2010 when Emporia won a national championship.
Collins was one of four finalists along with Denver assistant Kayla Ard, Drake assistant Allison Pohlman and Nebraska assistant Chuck Love. None of those three had head coaching experience. NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said in a university release that the pool of candidates was "very competitive and deep."
"Not only am I excited about his past experience as both a head coach and a high-level assistant," Larsen said, "but his passion and template for success are undeniable."
Since Amy Ruley retired from coaching in 2008, the Bison have struggled. Carolyn DeHoff was 72-105 in six seasons and Maren Walseth was 40-105 in five years. NDSU and Walseth agreed to part ways in March with Walseth having a year left on her contract. Since joining the Summit League in 2008-09, NDSU has won just one postseason tournament game.
"You always want to be at a place where the expectations are as high as your own," Collins said in a statement. "I'm excited for the opportunity to help return NDSU women's basketball to the status the fan base deserves."
The Bison won five NCAA Division II titles in the 1990s.
The 40-year-old Collins was at Emporia for a total of 12 seasons. His head coaching record was 199-56 with five straight Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association titles and six straight trips to the Division II Sweet 16. His best season was 2015 when the Lady Hornets 29-5 and advanced to the Final Four.
In the classroom, Emporia had the top Division II team grade point average in 2017 with an average of 3.72. Collins earned his degree in education from Emporia in 2002 and a master's in school leadership in 2006.
He'll be introduced to the public in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, but he already briefly addressed the returning Bison players on Monday morning.
"Basketball is something you do, it's not really who you are," Collins said on the NDSU Twitter account. "Who you are is much more about what kind of person you are."