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Jeff Boals leaving Stony Brook to coach at Ohio 

Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals looks on

Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals looks on during the second half of a men's basketball game against Maine at Island Federal Arena on Saturday, Feb. 23. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Jeff Boals is leaving Stony Brook after three years as men’s basketball coach to take over the program at Ohio University that he once captained as a player, the school announced Sunday.

Boals became the Stony Brook coach after Steve Pikiell left for Rutgers in 2016, and the SBU program appeared to be on the upswing after a 24-win season. But for Ohio native Boals, the pull to return home was too great to pass up.

Boals was Ohio’s captain for two years and led the school to the NCAA Tournament in 1994. He began his coaching career as an assistant there after his graduation in 1995. He also was an assistant coach at nearby Ohio State for seven seasons.

In a statement released by Ohio University on Sunday, Boals said: “I am incredibly grateful and honored to return home to my alma mater as the head men’s basketball coach at Ohio University. My family and I are thrilled to see my coaching career come full circle with this opportunity.”

Boals was 55-41 in three seasons at Stony Brook, including a 24-8 overall mark and 12-4 conference record this season.

The second-seeded Seawolves were upset in the first round of the America East Tournament, but on Sunday night, the school received a bid to play in the College Basketball Invitational. The Seawolves will face South Florida in Tampa on Wednesday.

Assistant Geno Ford will serve as interim coach for however long the season continues, athletic director Shawn Heilbron said.

Boals told the team of his decision to leave Sunday afternoon and is expected to be introduced at an Ohio news conference early this week. Heilbron said a search for his replacement will begin “immediately.”

“My focus is on continuing our upward trajectory and maintaining a program that competes annually for conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances,” Heilbron said in a statement. “I’m excited about the group of young men that we have and those who are committed to come to Stony Brook. Coming off of a 24-win regular season, our team is poised to take the next step.”

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