GARY | Improving win totals and graduating players wasn’t enough for Jason Hawkins to keep his job after three years coaching the IU-Northwest men's basketball team.
Hawkins, who has long had coaching ties to Northwest Indiana, said that he was fired this week, a month after finishing his third season with the Redhawks.
IU-Northwest hasn’t had a winning season in four years, but Hawkins felt he was turning the corner after tripling his win total from his first season with the team in 2011-12. The RedHawks finished the season 9-21.
“I didn’t see this coming at all,” Hawkins said. “The program was improving. We were graduating our players, getting out in the community. We have a good recruiting class coming in. This just took me by total surprise.”
Hawkins began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Valparaiso and then returned as an assistant coach following a two-year stint as head coach at Calumet College of St. Joseph. The Bishop Noll graduate left the Crusaders to become head coach at Michigan City Marquette for three years and spent a season at Elmhurst College before taking over the RedHawks in 2011.
“I definitely want to coach again,” Hawkins said. “This was a great opportunity at IU-Northwest and I’m thankful for what we accomplished. It’s about creating productive citizens in the community and we did that.”
Hawkins said he is left with regret after helping to bring in Division I transfer Cylk Joseph from IPFW. The former Bowman Academy standout enrolled at IU-Northwest in January and is set to join a roster that featured no seniors this season. Former Morgan Twp. star Brandon Grubl earned Second Team All-A.I.I. honors this season and is set to return for his senior year next season.
Hawkins was let go Tuesday by IU-Northwest athletic director Kris Schnatz. Schnatz took the athletic director's position in the fall of 2012 after serving as men’s basketball coach at Purdue North Central for five seasons.
Multiple attempts to contact Schnatz on Thursday were unsuccessful.