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Christian leaves TCU for Ohio U

Athens, OH (Sports Network) - Ohio University has named Jim Christian its new men's basketball coach.

Christian spent the past four seasons at TCU and will replace John Groce, who left the Bobcats after four years to fill the vacancy at Illinois.

"It was clear cut, if there was any way I could take over a situation like this, it was ideal for me," said Christian at a news conference on Tuesday.

Christian guided the Horned Frogs to a record of 18-15 with an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational this past season. TCU reached the quarterfinal round, beating Milwaukee in the first round before losing to Oregon State.

During his four-year tenure, Christian led the Horned Frogs to a record of 56-73. The 2011-12 campaign was his lone winning season at the school, which is set to move from the Mountain West to the Big 12 next season.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday that Christian was a finalist for the opening at Rhode Island, his alma mater, but the job went to Dan Hurley. The paper also said he was interested in the Mississippi State position that went to Rick Ray.

Christian will return to the state of Ohio, where he spent six years as the head coach at Kent State from 2002-2008. He compiled a record of 138-58 with the Golden Flashes, winning at least 20 games in each season and guiding the program to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances.

"Jim Christian is the winningest men's basketball head coach in Mid-American Conference history and we are thrilled to have him lead our program," said Ohio athletic director Jim Schaus. "I am confident that his passion, energy and leadership will help our program get to the next level."

At Ohio he'll take over a program that made a pair of NCAA Tournament trips under Groce. This year's squad was 29-8 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, taking North Carolina to overtime before bowing out to the Tar Heels in a Midwest Region semifinal.

"To step into a place that has had that kind of success, is challenging for me," Christian added. "You want to follow people that are successful."

Christian served as an assistant coach for one year at Kent State before taking the head coaching position. Prior to that, he held coaching jobs at Pittsburgh, Miami-Ohio, Western Kentucky and Saint Francis-PA.

04/03 14:51:16 ET