Jared Ronai has completed five seasons as the head men’s basketball coach at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. During his time with the program he has guided the Cougars to 18 or more wins in four of his five campaigns, and his 97-63 overall record gives him the most wins for any head coach in their first five years with the program.
MVNU completed one of the best seasons in program history under Ronai’s leadership in 2018-19. The Cougars finished with a record of 27-8, tying program record for wins in a season. They also advanced to their first Crossroads League Championship game in program history, after finishing with the program’s best Crossroads League record at 12-6. Ronai’s team was ranked in the NAIA Division II Coaches’ Poll the entire season, rising to as high as No. 5. They then earned a trip to the NAIA Division II National Tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where they eventually fell to Morningside (Iowa) 75-69 in the Round of 16; the trip the NAIA Tournament was the program’s first in a decade. The 2018-19 senior class was Ronai’s first recruiting class and finished their careers with an average of 19.5 wins per season.
Ronai inherited the MVNU program in August 2014 when he was named the tenth coach in program history. He quickly made his mark on the program during his first year in 2014-15 by leading MVNU to one of the biggest single season turnarounds in the country- improving by 12 wins from the year before. The Cougar head coach guided his team to a 19-12 overall record and made the Crossroads League Tournament for the first time since entering the conference, where they then advanced to the semifinal game.
During the next three seasons Ronai would continue to build the program back to prominence by winning 14, 19 and 18 games, respectively. The 2016-17 season saw MVNU finish with eight Crossroads League wins, the second most since joining the league, and received votes in the NAIA national top 25 poll for five consecutive polls. During the 2017-18 season, MVNU defeated seven top 25 opponents and finished #33 in the final national rankings- just missing an at large bid to the national tournament. The Cougars also advanced to the Crossroads League semifinal game for the second time in four seasons.
In five seasons Ronai has tutored nine players into 17 All-Crossroads League honors, including four straight seasons of all-defensive team honorees and three straight recruiting classes with an all-freshman team honoree. Ronai has also recruited and developed two All-Americans during his tenure.
Ronai is a graduate of Georgia Southwestern State and earned his Masters of Education degree from the University of Dayton. As a player at the collegiate level Ronai competed at both the NCAA Division I and NAIA levels, getting his start at UNC-Asheville before finishing up at Georgia Southwestern State University. At Georgia Southwestern he was the starting point guard for two seasons, helping to lead his team to the NAIA National Tournament, and received the prestigious Champions of Character Award. While in high school he played for his father, Bob Ronai, at London High School where he was a first team All-Ohio choice and the conference, county and district player of the year. He posted over 1,000 points and 500+ assists in his career.
Since his playing days, Ronai has been the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for NCAA Division II Ashland University (Ohio) and NCAA Division I UNC-Asheville, as well as the associate head coach at Middletown High School in Middletown, Ohio. He also served as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Dayton and was a Strength and Conditioning Intern at the United States Naval Academy.
Ronai and his wife, Kristin, have a son, Kyler James (4), and a daughter, Kamryn Joy (1). They reside in Mount Vernon.