Ron Jirsa Joins EKU Men’s Basketball as Assistant Coach

Courtesy EKU Athletics

Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball program has announced the addition of Ron Jirsa as an assistant coach. Head coach A.W. Hamilton, who made the announcement today, welcomed Jirsa, bringing over 40 years of coaching experience to the team.

Jirsa’s head coaching experience includes two years at the University of Georgia and four seasons at Marshall University. During his time at Marshall, Jirsa coached Hamilton during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons, with Hamilton later serving as a graduate assistant under Jirsa in 2005-06.

“It’s an honor to welcome Ron Jirsa, his wife Laura, and their daughter Hannah to our basketball family,” said Hamilton. “I had the pleasure to play and work for coach Jirsa at Marshall University. Over the years we’ve become great friends. His patience, grace, and ability to see the best in people is something I look forward to him sharing with our players on and off the floor.”

Jirsa’s coaching career began as an assistant at Delaware in 1983-84, followed by assistant positions at Virginia Commonwealth (1984-85), Tulsa (1985-88), Belmont Abbey (1988-89), and Gardner-Webb (1990-91).

In 1991, Jirsa joined head coach Tubby Smith’s staff at Tulsa as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, helping the program reach the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 twice. He also recruited Tulsa’s all-time leading rebounder and 10-year NBA veteran Michael Ruffin.

Jirsa followed Smith to the University of Georgia, serving as associate head coach from 1995-97. He helped the Bulldogs make two NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 1996. After Smith left, Jirsa became head coach, compiling a 35-30 record over two seasons and leading Georgia to back-to-back NIT appearances.

From 1999-2003, Jirsa was senior assistant coach at the University of Dayton, contributing to 88 wins, two NCAA Tournament appearances, and two NIT trips. The Flyers won the 2023 Atlantic 10 Tournament.

Jirsa then served as head coach at Marshall for four years, directing the program’s transition from the Mid-American Conference to Conference USA and securing two victories over in-state rival West Virginia.

In 2007, Jirsa rejoined Smith at the University of Minnesota as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator until 2013. He led recruiting efforts for top-20 ranked classes in 2007 and 2008, helping the Golden Gophers reach the NCAA Tournament in 2009, 2010, and 2013, and achieve a 23-win season as NIT runner-up in 2012.

Following his tenure at Minnesota, Jirsa served as an assistant at Bethel University (2013-14) and Tennessee Tech (2014-15). In 2015, he joined Mike Jones’ staff at Radford University, where he contributed to two Big South Conference regular-season championships and the 2018 Big South Tournament title. Radford earned an NCAA Tournament win in the First Four in 2018.

Jirsa continued to work under Jones at UNC Greensboro in the 2021-22 season, helping the Spartans reach the College Basketball Invitational Tournament. During the 2023-24 season, he served as an assistant coach at River Falls High School in Wisconsin.

Jirsa holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Gettysburg College and a master’s degree in athletic administration from Tulsa.

Under Hamilton’s leadership, EKU won the 2023-24 Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Season Championship, their first regular season conference title in 45 years. Hamilton was named ASUN Coach of the Year and NABC District III Coach of the Year, becoming the first coach in program history to receive the conference coach of the year honor twice.

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