Cal State University San MarcosJim Saia, who started the men’s basketball program at Cal State San Marcos from scratch and turned it into a small college power, has left to become the head coach at Cal State Los Angeles, CSUSM announced Monday.

Assistant B.J. Foster will serve as head coach on an interim basis, according to athletic director Jennifer Milo.

“Coach Saia built a program from scratch into a national contender at the NAIA level and now at the NCAA DII level,” Milo said. “I want to thank him for all of his hard work and dedication to CSUSM, and for providing the foundation for our program.”

In Saia’s five seasons, the Cougars spent 11 weeks atop the NAIA polls. He was named Association of Independent Institutions Coach of the Year twice and won two A.I.I. titles. The upcoming season will be the program’s first in its new on-campus arena. The team played at a nearby community college gymnasium in previous years.

—City News Service