The New Mexico State basketball program ended its coach search on Friday and officially announced the hiring of Sam Houston State’s Jason Hooten.
The Aggies focused on Hooten earlier in the week, sources said, and were able to seal the deal despite Sam Houston’s attempts to bar him from his in-conference rival.
“I think Coach Hooten is a great fit for New Mexico State,” said athletic director Mario Moccia. “Throughout his coaching career he has demonstrated his ability to build tough, defensive-minded teams. Importantly, his programs are always grounded in character and integrity.”
Hooten joins the Aggies after 13 seasons at Sam Houston State, where he has had six 20-win seasons and at least 18 wins in each of the last 10 seasons. He led the Bearkats to the 2019 Southland regular-season championship and also finished top-seeded at that season’s WAC tournament.
Before becoming Sam Houston’s head coach, Hooten was an assistant coach with the Bearkats for six seasons.
With the hiring of Hooten, the state of New Mexico hopes to put an end to an ugly season that darkened the Aggies’ program. They called off their season in February after making allegations against three players. A police report cited three players for false imprisonment, harassment and criminal sexual contact against a teammate.
Three months earlier, a New Mexico state player, Mike Peake, shot and killed a New Mexico student in what police have called self-defense. Several investigations were launched to determine whether coaches and staff cooperated with police and provided evidence following the shooting.
Hooten replaces Greg Heiar, who was fired shortly after the season was abandoned in February.