Johnston leaves, returns

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

He’s a Jackrabbit. He’s a Phoenix. He’s a Jackrabbit again.

Aaron Johnston thought he was ready to move on from SDSU, but he was wrong.

On April 25, Johnston accepted the women’s basketball head coaching position at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

“It really started because I think I was at a point where I wondered professionally if there would be some development and growth,” Johnston said. “I really didn’t approach the Green Bay job saying, ‘You know what, this is just an all-around better job, better fan support, or it’s going to be a better community,’ never anything like that. It was just a chance for me to see from a new perspective. It would force me as a coach to think differently, and I wondered if there would be some value in that.”

The very next day, on his way to Wisconsin to be introduced as head coach of the Phoenix, Johnston had a change of heart. He called SDSU Athletic Director Fred Oien from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and asked if he could return to the Jacks.

“It was just a wow moment,” Oien said. “My first word was wow, and I was quiet for a while, extremely emotional.”

Oien said after the call he met with his associate athletic directors and then SDSU President Chicoine, and then called Johnston back to say he was welcomed back at SDSU.

“I have very, very special relationships here,” Johnston said. “And for me to want to come back, is really all about those relationships … That connection is what I’ve really enjoyed about my time here. I just don’t know that, right now, if there is any other place where that connection could be as strong as the connection I have here. I think the things that came back and really changed my decision were the relationships again, the connection that I think I’ve made with a lot of people … I just wasn’t ready to walk away from those.” Aaron Johnston talks about his decision to return at a press conference April 26.:Troy Miller