Longtime Madison-area basketball coach James Adams has been named the first head coach at Indiana University-Columbus.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to coach at this level,” Adams tells Madison365. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to be able to be their first-ever head men’s basketball coach.”
Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC), located in Columbus, Indiana, is an Indiana University campus and an extension of IUPUI founded in 1970, IUPUC will transition into Indiana University-Columbus by the fall of 2024. IUPUC offers degree programs from both Indiana University and Purdue University.
IUPUC, which competes in the River States Conference in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), has built an athletics program to include men’s and women’s cross-country, baseball, softball, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer. Back in August, Crimson Pride athletics director Zach McClellan announced that they would be growing the program with the addition of men’s and women’s basketball in the winter of 2024-25.
Adams has spent a lifetime coaching basketball players of all ages. He earned Big Eight Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2018 after leading Madison East to a runner-up finish in the league standings. Adams won three consecutive regional titles and guided the Purgolders to back-to-back sectional final appearances. Most recently, Adams was the coach of the Madison Mavericks, Madison’s semi-pro basketball team, and co-head women’s basketball coach for Madison College.
“For at least 30 years I’ve been coaching in Madison — youth, AAU [Boys Basketball], high school and then at Madison College,” Adams says. “I do want to shout out all of the organizations along the way that have helped pave the way for me to get to this level from the Madison East High School to the Madison Spartans, Wisconsin Stars, Madison College, Madison Mavericks, Wisconsin Force, and Madison West High School.
“These are the programs that gave me the opportunity to coach. I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I always like to pay homage to what folks have done for me.”
Adams believes that his immense coaching experience and history will help him with an important part of his new job — recruiting.
“There is a lot of basketball talent in the state of Indiana so I am looking forward to the recruiting aspect of my job,” Adams says. “It’s similar to recruiting for AAU. I think there is an advantage of coaching at the college level that you can offer some money and they’re playing at the collegiate level.
“A lot of kids do choose institutions because of the academics or because of the great location … so that’s also gonna play a part in the recruitment,” Adams adds. “But when you are in a start-up program, it’s important to just get things off the floor, get things moving, getting a team, developing a culture.”
Indiana University-Columbus is located just south of Indianapolis, just west of Cincinnati and north of Louisville, Kentucky, some large metropolitan areas with a lot of great basketball players. There is a sense of urgency in recruitment being the first year of the program.
“I think that’s why I’ve been hired now to build for next year,” Adams says, mentioning that he will be moving to Indiana in December. “I’m eager to get there to start building.”
Adams says that he will miss Madison and Wisconsin but he plans to keep in contact with the hundreds of players and coaches he has met and mentored over the years.
“Madison has been a platform for me to be able to harvest my skills, and develop a lot of student-athletes in this city and state,” he says. “I will miss the camaraderie with the coaches and the camaraderie with friends and family, obviously, but with technology, there are a lot of different ways to reach out and get in touch with someone.
“When God has a plan for you, you have to answer to this plan. And I feel like it’s his plan. It’s something I’ve been working on for so many years — bettering my education, harnessing my skills, and developing these relationships with student-athletes in the state of Wisconsin. To get to take over a men’s program at a university is something I have been waiting for.”