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UND signs basketball coach Brian Jones to four-year contract extension

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UND men's basketball coach Brian Jones talks to the media prior to the program's appearance in the NCAA tournament in Salt Lake City last March.2 / 2

UND men's basketball coach Brian Jones signed a four-year contract extension, the school announced Thursday, ending a lengthy process that included a two-month extension in order to buy more time for negotiations.

UND athletic director Brian Faison said the process was drawn out due to university-wide budget issues, which were at least partly a result of a dip in higher education funding from the North Dakota State Legislature. In late March, as part of those budget issues, UND cut women's hockey and men's and women's swimming and diving.

"There's no question that the budget was a factor in our process," Faison said. "You know what your revenue lines are and what your expenditures are. You have to make sure the numbers work. In the business world, that's what you do. I wouldn't say it was frustrating, but it is what it is. I appreciate his patience. It did take an inordinate amount of time."

The base salary of Jones' new contract is $140,000, a boost of more than $30,000 from a year ago.

"It was a stressful time, but at the end of the day you have to enough confidence to have faith in the process," Jones said. "With what we're going through across campus, it's a tough time. The bottom line is I wanted to stay here."

In the last year of Jones' previous contract, UND finished the 2016-17 season with 22 wins and a 14-4 mark in the Big Sky Conference. The Fighting Hawks won the league regular season and tournament titles and Jones was named Big Sky Coach of the Year.

Jones is 166-179 all-time at UND and three years removed from the program's toughest season—an 8-22 record where the team won just four league games.

"We're still working for that sustained success but I think allowing us to stay here, we're going to be able to achieve that," Jones said.

In 2016-17, UND's best season at the Division I level was highlighted by the program's first trip to the NCAA tournament after a 93-89 overtime win over Weber State in the Big Sky title game.

"(Jones) really turned things around academically and athletically," Faison said. "We wanted to reward that and keep moving in the right direction."

After the season, UND announced in May that Jones was given a two-month contract extension in order to buy time for further negotiations. That interim contract would have run out Saturday.

Jones, a Rock Island, Ill., native and Northern Iowa graduate, will enter his 12th season as head coach at UND next fall.

Jones, who came to UND after spending time as an assistant at Iowa, is the 18th head coach in UND history and just the third in the last 36 years.

According to a USA Today database, Jones was the lowest paid head coach at the NCAA Tournament in March. Jones' $109,273 of compensation was last of the 63 public universities in the tournament. The five private schools in the Big Dance don't have to divulge salary information.

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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