Jamion Christian, who led the Mount St. Mary's men's basketball team to the NCAA tournament twice in six seasons, is leaving his alma mater to take over the head coach position at Siena College.
Mount athletic director Lynne Robinson announced the move Wednesday.
Christian, 36, is considered one of the rising coaches in Division I. Christian, who came to Mount St. Mary's after serving as an assistant under Shaka Smart at Virginia Commonwealth, was 101-95 in six seasons with the Mountaineers, including 67-39 in the NEC.
"Needless to say, we are disappointed that Jamion is leaving the Mount as he has had a tremendous impact on Mount St. Mary's and our men's basketball program for the past six years," Robinson said in a news release. "We are grateful for the leadership he has provided and for the positive impact he has made in the lives of the many young men he has coached. Jamion embraced and enriched the proud tradition of our men's basketball program and we are a stronger program because of him. As a proud graduate of the Mount, Jamion will always be part of the Mount family. We wish him much continued success in his coaching career."
Citing an unnamed source "close to the situation," the Times Union in Albany, N.Y., reported Christian agreed to a contract with the upstate New York school Tuesday.
The move may seem surprising to Mountaineers enthusiasts, particularly since Christian agreed last summer to a contract extension that extended through the 2026-27 season.
"I love the Mount," Christian said in a statement last summer. "I want to be here for a long time because I believe that we can be as elite a program as there is in this country."
A national search for Christian's replacement will begin immediately, according to Wednesday's release.
Christian didn't respond to a message seeking comment, but he was introduced at Siena in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
"This is an exciting day," Christian said. "I had a chance to meet with [my players] today, and you can just see it in their eyes — their passion for turning this program around and getting it right back to the top."
Christian brought an up-tempo style of play from his VCU days that he called "Mayhem," which centered around 3-point shooting and pressure defense. In 2013-14, he guided the fourth-place Mountaineers to the Northeast Conference tournament championship and the NCAA tournament, where they lost in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, to Albany.
In 2016-17, Mount St. Mary's won both the NEC regular season and tournament titles. The Mountaineers won their First Four game over New Orleans before losing to Villanova in the Round of 64. Christian earned NEC Coach of the Year honors.
Despite having five players transfer off that team, including two of their top three scorers in guards Elijah Long and Miles Wilson, Mount St. Mary's tied for second in the NEC and finished with an 18-14 record in 2017-18.
Junior Robinson earned NEC Player of the Year honors this winter after putting together a standout season. Robinson led the Mount in scoring at 22.0 points per game, the 16th best average in all of Division I. The 5-foot-5 Robinson added 4.9 assists and shot 89.9 percent from the foul line. He made 38.8 percent of his 3-pointers as well, and finished his career third on the Mount's all-time scoring list at 1,872 points.
Fellow senior Chris Wray received NEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Wray, a 6-8 forward, averaged 9.6 points and 8.3 rebounds this season, and added 2.0 steals and 2.1 blocks.
The Mount had another NEC accolade when redshirt freshman guard Jonah Antonio landed a spot on the All-Rookie Team.
The Mountaineers knew they'd have to replace Robinson and Wray, as well as senior Greg Alexander, but it appears Antonio is one of several players from this year's team that, like Christian, were expected to be back next season but won't be.
According to verbalcommits.com, a website that tracks college basketball recruits and transfers, Antonio is no longer on the Mount's roster. Also leaving via transfer, according to the site, are Bobby Planutis, a freshman guard, and Ryan Gomes, a sophomore center who hails from Westminster.
Christian is replacing former Maryland assistant and Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos, who was forced to resign last month after spending five seasons with the Saints.
A report surfaced that Patsos allegedly mistreated a student manager who lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder. It was also reported that members of Patsos' staff withheld players' per diem payments for meals in order to pay a large bar tab. Patsos denied all the allegations at a news conference.
The charges followed an 8-24 season for the Saints, the worst under Patsos in his five seasons with the school. According to reports, Patsos had at least two years left on his contract.
Patsos came to Siena from Loyola, where he took over a program that finished 1-27 the year before he arrived and led the team to the NCAA tournament in 2011-12.