SAN LUIS OBISPO – Cal Poly men's basketball head coach John Smith finalized his coaching staff on Wednesday morning with the announcement that Rodney Tention – who brings nearly three decades of collegiate experience to Mott Athletics Center – has joined the program as associate head coach.
"I'm thrilled to add Rodney Tention to our staff to help lead and guide not only our players, but myself and the rest of our staff," Smith said. "The experience coach Tention brings is something to marvel at, but his character and demeanor outshine everything he's accomplished. I couldn't imagine having anyone else as my associate head coach."
Tention's success at the Division I level began with a run of eight consecutive NCAA Tournament berths as an assistant coach at Arizona under Lute Olson (1998-2005). With the Wildcats, Tention worked primarily with perimeter players, in addition to compiling scouting reports and serving in Arizona's nationally renowned recruiting efforts. With Tention on staff, Arizona posted a combined 205-56 (.786) mark, captured three Pac-10 Conference championships and reached the 2001 NCAA Tournament championship game.
Tention carried success to Loyola Marymount where he served as head coach from 2005-08. One year after finishing 3-11 in West Coast Conference play, Loyola Marymount finished 8-6 in the WCC and reached the conference tournament championship game during Tention's first season. Tention coached six Lions to All-WCC honors while Damian Martin became just the second Loyola Marymount player in program history to earn WCC Defender of the Year praise.
As an assistant coach at Stanford (2008-11), Tention helped the Cardinal to a 20-win season and a semifinal appearance in the 2009 College Basketball Invitational postseason tournament during his first year. With Tention, nine Stanford players earned All-Pac-10 honors in just three seasons.
Tention then spent four seasons as an assistant coach at San Diego. The Toreros capped the 2013-14 season by reaching the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
Prior to Cal Poly, Tention's last position with a Division I program was as an assistant coach at San Jose State (2015-18). He later served as interim head coach in July 2017 following the resignation of head coach Dave Wojcik.
Tention, 56, was also an assistant coach at South Florida (1989-91). The Bulls made back-to-back postseason appearances with Tention, including the 1990 NCAA Tournament after winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Bulls produced a 39-21 (.650) record with Tention, including a 20-win effort in his first season.
Before his successful run at the Division I level, Tention spent six seasons at the College of Notre Dame (Belmont, Calif.). He served as an assistant coach for the Argonauts from 1992-94, recruiting the talent that led Notre Dame to its first postseason appearance in 1994. Tention was then promoted to head coach for a three-year run while the program transitioned from NCAA Division II to the NAIA.
Tention received his coaching start as an assistant at Skyline Community College (San Bruno, Calif.) during the 1988-89 season as the program captured the Coast Conference championship.
As a player, Tention averaged 10.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game during a three-year career at San Francisco. A two-time All-West Coast Conference selection, Tention was also a two-year captain for the Dons. As a senior during the 1987-88 season, he averaged 11.0 points per game and finished fourth among WCC players with 1.9 steals per game and fifth with 3.8 assists per game.
Tention began his collegiate career at Air Force where he started 23 of 27 games as a true freshman during the 1983-84 season and averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per matchup. He then spent the 1984-85 season at Grossmont Community College (El Cajon, Calif.) where he was named Pacific Coast Conference Most Valuable Player and was an All-California Community College Athletic Association selection. He also set program single season records for assists (259), averaging 8.1 per game.
Tention received his bachelor's degree in sociology from San Francisco in 1988 and his master's in public administration from the College of Notre Dame in 1995.
He has a son Nathan, and he and his wife, Rebecca, have two sons, Justice and Miles.