Jared Phay is back in the National Junior College Athletic Association.
The former North Idaho College and College of Southern Idaho head men’s basketball coach accepted the same job Tuesday at Missouri State-West Plains, a return to the NJCAA after a brief stint as Idaho State’s associate head coach.
Phay, a Post Falls native, averaged 22 wins a season at NIC (2004-14) and was 136-33 in five seasons at CSI (2014-2019), leading the Golden Eagles to the NJCAA national title game in 2018.
The five-time Scenic West Athletic Conference Coach of the Year is happy to be back in the junior college ranks.
“I spent 18 years coaching NJCAA, and it is what I know and what I love,” said Phay, who led NIC to its first No. 1 national ranking in 2011. “I feel like it is a great level to make positive impacts on student-athletes as they are just trying to figure out college and life.”
Phay joined new Idaho State head coach and Central Valley graduate Ryan Looney’s staff in Pocatello last spring, where six of Phay’s CSI players followed.
But Phay and Looney reportedly clashed as the Bengals struggled this past season, finishing last in the Big Sky Conference. Phay left the program in February when the two coaches agreed to mutually part ways. The school still paid Phay’s annual salary in full.
“I learned a lot in my Idaho State experience,” Phay said. “I came (to Idaho State) to learn a different way of doing things, but I also learned a lot from the programs we got to play against. The level of coaching is extremely high at the NCAA Division I level.”
Phay, 43, now heads to the Midwest to take over Missouri State-West Plains program that went 10-21 last season, despite featuring multiple Division I recruits, including future Florida State guard Sardaar Calhoun.
Missouri State-West Plains finished 20-12 during the 2018-19 season and advanced to the Region 16 title game. Phay’s CSI team handled the Grizzlies 118-91 at the Reed Overhead Door Classic in Iowa earlier that season.
“I really think you can win at MSU-West Plains. They have great facilities, a great scholarship situation and a community that really backs the program,” Phay said. “It is located in the middle of several big cities, so I feel we can recruit. I am very excited for a new challenge.”
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