Assistant Basketball Coach Jamill Jones, who faces assault charges in New York for allegedly fatally punching a man last year, resigned on Friday. Jones had been on leave from the basketball program since Aug. 10.
Jones faces a third-degree assault charge after allegedly punching 35-year-old Sandor Szabo, who was visiting from Boca Raton, Fla., in an Aug. 5 altercation in Queens, New York. Szabo struck his head on the pavement and died on Aug. 7 as a result of the injuries he sustained.
In August, the New York City medical examiner ruled Szabo’s death a homicide, citing “blunt impact injury of head with brain injury” as his cause of death.
Jones could not immediately be reached for further comment.
“I believe it is in the best interest of both the team and me personally that I resign from my position,” said Jones in a press release from Wake Forest Athletic Communications. “It is my sincerest hope and desire that stepping down now will allow the student-athletes, coaches and administration at Wake Forest to focus fully on their studies and on the season ahead, without distraction, while I focus all of my attention and energy on resolving my legal case.”
Steve Kirkland, Wake Forest director of Athletic Communications, declined to comment beyond the official press release.
“This decision is in the best interest for both our program and Jamill. I appreciate everyone on our staff who took on extra responsibilities during Jamill’s leave, and we are committed to finding a great addition to complete our coaching staff,” Head Coach Danny Manning said in the press release.
Jones pleaded not guilty to the third-degree assault charges on Aug. 10. Last week, the Winston-Salem Journal reported that the Queens Criminal Court denied a motion from Jones’ attorney to prevent a New York police detective from identifying Jones in surveillance footage.
Jones’ next court appearance will take on place on May 6 in Queens Criminal Court.
On Aug. 5, Szabo, who may have been intoxicated, was reportedly knocking on car windows searching for his Uber driver before he was confronted by a local resident. Jones was sitting in his parked car at the time and allegedly exited his vehicle to punch Szabo.
Jones left the scene of the incident but reportedly learned of the severity of Szabo’s injuries and that police were searching for him in the following days. He, through his attorney Alain Massena, arranged to turn himself in on Aug. 9.
Szabo was a vice president of sales for What If Media Group, a digital marketing company. In an Aug. 8 Facebook post, the company recalled “his bright smile, his positive attitude, his passion for our company. . . and his love of family.”
The Charlotte News & Observer reported that the attorneys of Donna Kent, Szabo’s mother, argued to the Queens County District Attorney’s office that Jones should be charged with criminally negligent homicide, but no new charges have been raised to date.
Jones joined the Wake Forest basketball program as an assistant coach in May 2017 after serving as a coach at University of Central Florida, Virginia Commonwealth University and Florida Gulf Coast University. Manning praised Jones as a “well-respected bright mind in our profession” at the time of his hire.
The Wake Forest basketball program has not announced a corresponding hire to replace Jones’ on the coaching staff.
“Our heartfelt condolences remain with Sandor Szabo’s family and friends,” Manning said via press release.