Old Dominion's Jeff Jones, 'grateful' for his long coaching run, retires

Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones is retiring, the school announced Monday.

The school announced in January that Jones was stepping away for the rest of the season due to health issues. He suffered a heart attack during the team's trip to Honolulu for the Diamond Head Classic a few days before Christmas and then began treatment for prostate cancer for the fourth time.

At an emotional press conference later Monday, the 63-year-old Jones fought back tears as he talked about his retirement in front of family, friends, staff members and current and former players.

"I knew at some point it would happen," said Jones, who spoke for roughly 40 minutes. "Dec. 20 kind of changed stuff. It gave me an opportunity to think about how grateful I am and what really matters. I've been so fortunate. Forty-one years. That's a long time. But the number of people I've been associated with over those years is just amazing. ... I feel like I'm a really lucky person."

Jones has been at Old Dominion since 2013, leading the Monarchs to the NCAA tournament in 2019 after winning both the Conference USA regular season and conference tournament championships.

He spent 13 seasons as the head coach at American before heading to ODU. During his time with the Eagles, Jones went to two NCAA tournaments and won four Patriot League regular-season titles.

Jones started his coaching career at Virginia, where he played his college ball from 1978 to '82. He was an assistant for the Cavaliers for eight seasons after graduating, and then replaced Terry Holland in 1990. He won an ACC regular-season championship in 1995 and guided Virginia to five NCAA tournament appearances. The Cavaliers made an Elite Eight run in 1995 and won the NIT in 1992.

He finishes his 32-year head coaching career with a record of 560-418.

Jones said his health has improved and he's eating better than ever.

"I should take stock in a salad company," he joked, adding that being away from the game has reduced his stress level.

Jones said he thought about coming back and coaching one more year to end on a different note, but he didn't want to be disingenuous toward players and the team.

"There's a lot of things to look forward to, and I did want to prioritize my family, my health and happiness," he said. "I think being happy is really, really, really underrated."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.