Steadman Takes The Reigns as Interim UTRGV Head Coach
RIO GRANDE VALLEY – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced on Thursday that Jai Steadman, who has been an assistant coach with the men’s basketball program since 2014, will serve as Interim head coach for the remainder of the season follow the tragic passing of head coach Lew Hill on Sunday.
Steadman was ranked tied for the No. 1 spot among assistant coaches in the WAC by Stadium's Jeff Goodman entering the 2020-21 season. In that article, Hill remarked that “Jai is a great recruiter and tireless worker. He is also great with the players and a team-first coach.”
During his time at UTRGV, Steadman has been heavily involved in scouting, on-court coaching, scheduling and recruiting.
Prior to joining UTRGV, Steadman already had significant ties to the region, having spent three seasons with the Houston Rockets’ NBA G-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, from 2009-12, not only helping the Vipers to their first championship in 2010, but a runner-up finish in 2011 as well. He was also an assistant coach for the 2010 NBA D-League All-Star Game, and the NBA D-League Select team during the 2010 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. His coaching responsibilities included on-floor coaching, individual player development, scouting all upcoming opponents and personnel, and serving as a liaison to the Rockets regarding player development. Additionally, Steadman ran most of the Vipers’ youth camps and clinics and was an integral part of the Vipers’ community engagement efforts.
Steadman has previous head coaching experience with Rander Cimbria in Denmark, where he led the team to their first playoff appearance in 2003-04. He also spent the 2013-14 season as the head coach at Westwind Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, Ariz. before returning to the Rio Grande Valley.
“I appreciate Coach Steadman stepping up to serve as our interim head coach. Our program is faced with most unusual circumstances, and Coach Steadman will help be a steady hand as we continue to cope with the loss of Coach Hill,” UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque said. “Coach Steadman has served our program well during the Lew Hill era, contributing to our success over the last few years. I know he and our entire coaching staff will help to effectively guide and nurture our young men and this program for the reminder of the season.”
The Lincoln, Neb.-native graduated from the University of Nebraska, where he began his coaching career as an administrative assistant from 1992-through-1997. While he was there, Nebraska won the 1995 National Invitational Tournament (NIT) and the 1994 Big 8 Tournament while going to the NCAA Tournament in 1992, 1993 and 1994, and making an additional NIT appearance in 1996.
After working for three seasons as an assistant coach at Tyler Junior College, Steadman returned to the NCAA Division I level as an assistant coach at TCU in 2002-03, where he helped to produce the No. 32 ranked recruiting class in the nation.
Steadman spent the next two seasons in professional basketball, first as the head coach of Rander Cimbria in Denmark, and then as an assistant coach with the Michigan Mayhem of the Continental Basketball Association.
Steadman returned to college basketball in 2004-05 as an assistant coach at McNeese State before joining the staff at North Texas the following season. At each stop, Steadman was the recruiting coordinator, helping to produce the No. 64 and No. 29 ranked recruiting classes in the nation, respectively.
Following a stint as an assistant coach with the Fort Worth Flyers of the NBA D-League in 2006-07, Steadman became an assistant coach at Louisiana from 2007-09. While there, he helped to bring in the No. 1 recruiting class in the Sun Belt Conference.
Then, after working with the Vipers, Steadman departed to become an assistant coach at Bellevue University in 2012-13, where he helped to lead the team to a conference championship and a berth in the NAIA Sweet 16.
“While I’m both nervous and excited, I obviously didn’t want to be handed the reins for this reason,” Steadman said. “The driving force behind everything we will do is my friend, Lew Hill. I want to finish what he started the best I can. We will compete for 40 plus minutes and do everything he did. The foundation is already laid. I just want to get the guys to play as hard as Lew would want. I’m going to try to do my best, just like he taught me during my years with him. We’re going to try to win the WAC Championship.”