Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - First Round - Charlotte v Richmond

Charlotte, head coach Alan Major agree to extension through 2017-18

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Head coach Alan Major led the Charlotte basketball program to its first 20-win season since 2008 this past year, as the 49ers won 21 games and received a bid to the Postseason NIT.

Next up for Major’s program is Conference USA, and the former Ohio State assistant will make the move with a new contract in tow.

The school announced on Thursday that Major’s contract has been extended through the 2017-18 season, and with four starters returning the 49ers are well-positioned to have an impact in their Conference USA debut.

“I am pleased with the direction of our men’s basketball program under the leadership of Alan Major,” Charlotte AD Judy Rose said in a statement released by the school.

“We are trending in the right direction. Our team played in post season for the first time since 2008. His recruiting model is based on getting quality young men into our program… good basketball players with strong character and a strong desire to graduate.  I am confident that we will be successful in Conference USA.”

The Conference USA that Charlotte enters in July will be drastically different than the league the program called home from 1995-2005. Perennial juggernaut Memphis, along with four other schools, will move from C-USA to the American Athletic Conference in July.

And both East Carolina and Tulane, schools that were a part of the league the last time Charlotte was a member, leave for the American next summer (as will Tulsa, which joined C-USA in 2005).

But with the massive overhaul comes an opportunity for Charlotte to establish itself as one of Conference USA’s best programs. Thursday’s news displays the confidence the school has in Major’s ability to do just that.

“I am thankful for the support and leadership of Chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois and Judy Rose,” said Major.

“I would like to give credit to our coaching staff, players and support staff for the part that they have played in this extension. I am very excited about the future of Charlotte basketball.”

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Sun Belt approves new scheduling format

Sun Belt Conference
Sun Belt Conference
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With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.

And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.

Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.

Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.