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Mr. Jessie Evans
Graduated 1980

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UL Men’s Head Basketball Coach, 1997 to 2004 and posted a 132 – 81 record.

Evans accepts Calif. job
Ex-Cajuns coach: San Francisco offers better chance to win.

April 23, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO –– Jessie Evans stood at a podium at the University of San Francisco on Thursday and explained why he’s leaving his job at UL Lafayette to assume the same position at the University of San Francisco: He thinks he has a better chance to win.

“One of the reasons I’m here is the tradition at the university,” Evans said. “They’ve won national championships, and we’ve got to get it done again.”

The Dons haven’t won the NCAA title since Bill Russell led the team to back-to-back championships in 1955 and 1956, but Evans believes he has a better chance of competing for that prize in San Francisco than he did in Lafayette.

The college would not disclose the terms of Evans’ new contract, beyond saying it is a multi-year deal. Evans’ annual salary at UL Lafayette was $170,000. It’s believed USF will pay Evans a base salary of more than $200,000.

In seven years of coaching the Ragin’ Cajuns, Evans compiled an overall record of 132-81, with a Sun Belt Conference mark of 77-32.

Last year, UL Lafayette finished 20-9, and with a 12-3 league record won it’s first regular-season Sun Belt Conference title.

The Ragin’ Cajuns were a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they lost their first-round game to North Carolina State.

At USF, Evans takes over a program that went 139-123 with one NCAA Tournament appearance in nine seasons under head coach Phil Mathews. Mathews was fired after this past season in which the Dons went 17-14, but finished fourth in the West Coast Conference with a record of 7-7.

Evans doesn’t plan to waste a lot of time rebuilding.

“When I went to Louisiana we had just completed a national title run at the University of Arizona,” said Evans, whose nine years as an assistant coach for Lute Olson culminated with the Wildcats’ NCAA championship in 1997.

To help him reach his goal, Evans said he’d like to bring Cajun assistant coach Jimmy Williams with him to San Francisco.

Regardless, Evans will try not to stray from the coaching philosophy he followed at UL Lafayette.

“I like to win, that’s first,” Evans said. “I like to get up and down, and I like to extend the floor a little bit. We do like to play 94 feet.”

That message went over well with the returning Dons players.

“That’s the way I love to play and that’s the way this team loves to play,” said Jerome Gumbs, a guard who will be a junior next season.

“His credentials speaks for itself,” Gumbs added. “He did what he did at Arizona, and UL Lafayette is like the Gonzaga of the Sun Belt Conference.”

Gumbs has close friends who played for Western Kentucky and Florida International University, “and they always talked about how UL Lafayette beats you, so I know he’s a good coach.”

Evans had little time to speak with his former Cajun players, save to tell them in vague terms last week that he could be moving on. Evans said he called some of his players on Thursday to tell them of his decision to join USF, but had to leave messages on answering machines.

“It’s always hard when you leave a team like that,” Evans said. “That was my best team. Selfishly, I think it’s a Sweet 16 team if everything goes right.”

No one is ready to say the same thing about USF, which first must wrest WCC domination away from Gonzaga. As if that’s not hard enough, the Dons this coming season have to navigate through a nonconference schedule that includes Stanford and St. Joseph’s.

And on top of all that, Evans has to adjust to leaving Lafayette behind.

“There’s a part of me that’s sad, a part of me that will always bleed Cajun blue,” he said. “I’m a Ragin’ Cajun in my heart, but my heart’s in San Francisco now.”

©The Lafayette Daily Advertiser
April 23, 2004

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE ANNOUNCES MEN’S BASKETBALL COACHING VANCANCY
Jessie Evans accepts position at San Francisco; assistant Robert Lee
named interim head coach

LAFAYETTE – On Thursday, April 22, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette named
assistant men’s basketball coach Robert Lee interim head men’s
basketball coach effective immediately.

Athletics Director Nelson Schexnayder announced that the University will
begin a full-scale search for a new head coach following the
announcement of former head coach Jessie Evans as the new head coach at
the University of San Francisco.

Last season, the Cajuns finished 20-9, winning the Sun Belt Conference
regular season and tournament championship. UL Lafayette made its
eighth NCAA appearance and will return eight letter winners and two
starters from a year ago.

Evans guided the Cajuns to a 132-81 record in seven years as the boss of
the Ragin’ Cajuns which included two trips to the NCAA tournament and
two NIT berths. His teams won 20-plus games four times and were an
impressive 77-32 in Sun Belt Conference play.