Jan Jensen [600x400]
Jan Jensen [600x400] (Credit: Getty)

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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jan Jensen had numerous head coaching opportunities in her 24 years as an assistant on Lisa Bluder's coaching staff at Iowa.

A few of the offers, Jensen said, were good enough to get serious consideration, but ultimately she decided to stay with Bluder and the Hawkeyes.

That loyalty was rewarded when Jensen, Iowa's associate head coach the last 20 years, was elevated to head coach after Bluder announced her retirement Monday.

"At the end of the day, this was where I wanted to be," Jensen said during her introductory news conference Wednesday.

Jensen succeeds the winningest coach in Iowa and Big Ten history. Her hiring adds to what was going to be a transition period for the Hawkeyes, who are coming off back-to-back appearances in the NCAA championship game and lose three starters, including two-time national player of the year Caitlin Clark.

The Hawkeyes have appeared in 14 of the last 16 NCAA tournaments and have won the Big Ten Tournament title the last three seasons.

"When you're chasing greatness, you want to be a champion," Jensen said.

Jensen said the program was already entering a new era with the loss of Clark, who became Division I's all-time leading scorer in her four years at Iowa. Starters Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall also finished their careers.

Even with major personnel turnover, Jensen said she won't lower her expectations, and she expects the same from her players.

"I'd like to think they're coming in with a mentality, little chip on their shoulder," she said, "because most everybody else is going to say, 'Hey, you lost all that.' "

Iowa sold out every home game last season, including two NCAA Tournament games, and Jensen said she is counting on that kind of support to continue.

"This year was going to be a lot different in the sense of rebuilding in the sense of graduating seniors, including a generational player like Caitlin," Jensen said. "There were fans who came for Caitlin. A lot of people came for Caitlin, but they stayed for Hannah (Stuelke), they stayed for Syd (Affolter), they certainly stayed for Kate and Gabbie. I think they stayed for what this team and culture is."

Iowa athletics director Beth Goetz said it was an easy decision to promote Jensen.

"This is a seamless passing of the baton," Goetz said. "Jan models daily what it means have a tireless work ethic, to lead with compassion and fiery passion and to be confident in who you are and how to go about chasing your dreams. Everything we needed in the next leader of this storied program was right here."

Jensen said she was "shocked" when Bluder informed her that she was retiring after 40 seasons at three schools.

"It's a beautiful chapter closed," said Jensen, who added Bluder would will be an advisor to the program.

Jensen, a native of the western Iowa town of Kimballton, was one of the best high school players in the state's 6-on-6 history, averaging 66 points per game as a senior. She went on to Drake, where she led the nation in scoring in her senior season in 1991. Two years later, she came back to Drake to work on Bluder's staff, then followed her to Iowa when Bluder was hired as head coach in 2000.

"I guess I'd just like to state that I love this state, and I cannot believe the journey I have had," Jensen said. "Oh, boy. I always say, if God would take me tomorrow, I couldn't have had it better."