Former Penn State head coach lands job leading UMBC men's program

The Baltimore Sun (TNS)
Jim Ferry is seen here this season coaching for Penn State. Ferry has been hired to lead the UMBC men's basketball program. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Former Duquesne and Penn State coach Jim Ferry has been hired to helm the UMBC men’s basketball program, the university announced Monday afternoon.

Ferry has been a head coach for a total of 20 years, including stops at the NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III levels. In his first foray at the Division I level, Ferry guided Long Island to a 150-149 overall record and a 98-82 mark in the Northeast Conference in 10 seasons, including back-to-back league tournament championships in 2011 and 2012 and subsequent NCAA tournament appearances.

Ferry did not find similar success at Duquesne. In five years, the Dukes went .500 or better only once in 2015-16, finished below .500 in the Atlantic 10 each time, and placed no better than a tie for 10th in the conference.

Last season, Ferry was named the interim head coach at Penn State after Pat Chambers resigned on Oct. 21. The Nittany Lions compiled an 11-14 overall record and a 7-12 mark in the Big Ten.

Ferry succeeds Ryan Odom, who left a week ago for the head coaching vacancy at Utah State.

In five years under Odom, who was hired in 2016 to replace Aki Thomas, the Retrievers racked up a 97-60 record for a .618 winning percentage with only the 2019-20 squad wrapping up its campaign with an overall record below .500. The program went 50-29 in the America East for a .633 winning percentage, never slipped below .500, and did not finish worse than fifth in the conference.

Odom, who has a 126-81 overall record as a head coach after stints at UNC Charlotte and Division II’s Lenoir-Rhyne, earned in 2017 the Joe B. Hall Award, which is presented annually to the top first-year coach in Division I.

In Odom’s second season in 2017-18, UMBC captured its first conference tournament championship since 2008 and became the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament when it stunned Virginia, 74-54, before falling, 50-43, to No. 9 seed Kansas State in the second round. That team also set a school single-season record with 25 wins.

This past winter, the Retrievers shared the America East regular-season title with Vermont for their first such crown since 2008 and earned the No. 1 seed and homecourt advantage throughout the conference tournament. But the team lost, 79-77, to No. 6 seed UMass Lowell in a semifinal at the UMBC Event Center in Catonsville on March 6.

UMBC said Ferry will be introduced on Wednesday.