With a coaching lineage that reads like a Who’s Who in college basketball and over two decades of success on the hardwood, Tim Jankovich was a logical choice for Illinois State’s Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger. The former Kansas assistant coach was formally named the 18th head coach in Redbird men’s basketball history at a press conference from the Doug Collins Court in Redbird Arena.
“We are excited to be hiring a coach with the experience and expertise of Tim Jankovich,” Zenger said. “His coaching pedigree is unmatched, and he has a basketball mind of the highest level. He is a man of great intellect. I believe Tim will be a great fit for Redbird basketball and the Redbird family.”
Jankovich was an assistant under head coach Bill Self, after working with Self for a season at Illinois.
“I’m pleased and honored to be selected as the next head basketball coach at Illinois State, a prestigious university with a tradition-rich basketball program,” Jankovich said. “I’ve always been impressed with Illinois State and the Bloomington-Normal community, and I’m looking forward to settling there with my family and building the Redbird basketball program. There are many reasons to get excited about joining the university and community, but none more important than having an opportunity to work for a president and athletic director who share a vision and a commitment to excellence. I have found that in Dr. (Al) Bowman and Dr. Zenger.”
Continuing with the level of excellence, Jankovich is looking forward to his first season in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“This is such a tremendous time in Missouri Valley Conference history,” Jankovich said. “Not since the days of Wes Unseld and Oscar Robertson has the conference been playing at such a high, national level. There are a lot of great coaches in this league, and I’m friends with a number of them. It is easily one of the best coaching conferences in the country.”
In addition to Self, Jankovich has served as an assistant coach for the likes of Eddie Sutton, Jack Hartman, Lon Kruger, Boyd Grant, Gene Iba and former Illinois State head coach Kevin Stallings. His list of employers includes Kansas, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Texas, Oklahoma State and Colorado State. In addition, Jankovich served as a head coach for four years at North Texas and two seasons at Hutchinson Community College.
A 1982 graduate of Kansas State, he first built his reputation as a top recruiter when he assembled teams that helped Colorado State achieve the winningest period in school history, posting three consecutive 20-win seasons, two Western Athletic Conference titles and three straight postseason tournament appearances.
From that point forward, success has followed him throughout his career, including a short stint (1992-93) working with Sutton at Oklahoma State, where Self was also an assistant on the staff. The Cowboys advanced to the Final Four in 1995 after Jankovich and Self left for head coaching positions.
In his first season as the head coach at North Texas, Jankovich took over a squad that had posted a 5-22 mark and recorded the second-biggest turnaround in the nation that year, advancing his team to the Southland Conference Tournament championship game. At UNT, he coached for four seasons and recorded the second-best record in school history, while taking his team to the Southland Conference Tournament championship game twice.
Jankovich also guided Hutchinson Community College, home of the NJCAA National Tournament, to back-to-back 20-win seasons, posting a 50-14 record and national rankings both seasons. At Vanderbilt, he played a key role in turning around a struggling program and helped lead the Commodores to two postseason appearances in three years. The core of Jankovich’s recruited players at Vandy would later advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2004.
One of the winningest players in Kansas State history, Jankovich was a four-year starter at point guard (one year at Washington State and three years for legendary coach Jack Hartman at K-State). In each of his three seasons at K-State, the Wildcats were ranked in the Top 20 and posted three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. A 1981 Elite Eight appearance and a 1982 Sweet 16 berth highlighted his playing career.
A three-time Academic All-American and honorable mention All-Big Eight player, Jankovich left Kansas State with nine Top-10 season and career marks at KSU, including ranking first in assists per game, first in free throw percentage (91.7) and eighth in career field goal percentage (51.0). In addition, he holds the Big Eight Tournament record for single-game assists (14).
Jankovich, born in Gary, Ind., graduated cum laude in 1982 with a 3.63 grade point average in business finance and received his master’s degree in radio/television from Kansas State in 1985. He and his wife, Cindy, have a son, Michael.