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UJ hires coach with 244 wins, four conference titles to his credit

Alan Magnani attributes part of his strong recruiting past to “getting lucky on a few kids.”

Thirteen All-Americans are more than a few, and he’s bringing that stellar resumé to Jamestown.

The University of Jamestown hired Magnani (mun-YAWN-ee) as its next head men’s basketball coach, on Thursday. Magnani takes over for Justin Wieck, who resigned after accepting an assistant job with NCAA Division II Minnesota-State Moorhead.

“Being an NAIA coach for a number of years and being in various leadership positions in the NAIA, you get to know what schools are quality programs,” Magnani said. “Over the years, Jamestown has proven itself as not only a quality men’s basketball program, but as an athletic department as a whole. And academically, the institution is wellknown.”

Magnani spent the past three years looking for the right job after being fired from Iowa Wesleyan in 2011. Magnani had built the program into a national contender during his 15 seasons as head coach, winning a schoolrecord 244 games.

However, the school made the decision to go NCAA Division III, though Magnani had reservations. He was asked to sign a letter in support of the move, but declined. He was then terminated.

“I wasn’t going to sign a letter or be forced to say I was 100-percent committed to a move I wasn’t committed to,” Magnani said. “In not doing so, I was let go of my responsibilities.”

It appears to be the Jimmies’ gain.

The winningest coach in Iowa Wesleyan men’s basketball history won four conference championships, taking those four teams to the national tournament. He was also conference coach of the year three times and a 2011 finalist for the Don Meyer-C o l l e g e i n s i d e r. c o m national coach of the year award.

Most of that success came in the past 10 years.

“It took us five or six years to recover, from the situation of when I came in, to get the program to where it needed to be,” Magnani said. “It took a lot of hard work. It may not have been the recruits in the first five or six years that reaped those benefits, but they were the kids that were the building blocks.”

Getting quality basketball players to commit to small-town colleges is no easy task. Magnani did it well in Mount Pleasant, Iowa (pop. 8,668), something he hopes to continue in Jamestown.

“We sold them on the fact that when you come to a small town, you’re gonna get a lot more individual attention,” he said. “People are gonna know who you are. There’s more of a following because of that small town. Once we started being successful, it was easy for the guys to see that.”

When he visited Jamestown during the interview process, Magnani was taken aback.

“It was very much not what I expected, but in a positive way,” Magnani said. “It’s a beautiful campus, nice and spacious. I said during the interview that it has a mid-level university feel in a smallschool setting.”

In addition to numerous individual awards, Magnani served as president of the NABC-NAIA Board of Directors and was a three-time chairman of the NAIA Division II men’s basketball national tournament.

UJ athletic director Lawrie Paulson said his experience and leadership stood out.

“It’s hard to match his resumé,” Paulson said in a press release. “Obviously, he has enjoyed a great deal of success coaching in Iowa, and I think his experience and maturity will be an asset, not only to the basketball program but to the athletic department and campus community as well.”

Said Magnani: “I’m very fortunate and appreciative of Lawrie Paulson and (President Robert Badal) for providing me with this opportunity. It’s so exciting and I’m very happy — I can’t wait to get started and continue what’s going on with the program.”

Magnani, a Madrid, Iowa native, has a degree in sociology from Northern Iowa and received his Master’s degree from NCAA DII Wayne State (Nebraska), where he served as an assistant. He and his wife, Diane, have three children: Trey (18), Jordan (14) and Lexie (12). He intends to visit again next week to get a living situation worked out before moving permanently sometime this summer.

Magnani takes over a program that will be on its third coach in four seasons. The Jimmies made the national tournament two years ago, following that with a conference championship this winter.

Sun sportswriter Chris

Aarhus can be reached

at (701) 952-8462 or