When Mark Fox was named the head coach of the University of Nevada men's basketball program on June 1, 2004, he took the reins of a program that was well on its way to establishing itself as a championship-caliber squad.
After leading Nevada to the team's second consecutive Western Athletic Conference title and NCAA appearance last season in his first year at the helm, there is little doubt that Fox will continue the Wolf Pack's ascent to the upper echelon of the college basketball world. With expectations as high as ever heading into the 2005-06 season, he has all of the pieces in place to continue the Wolf Pack's successes and turn the program into a perennial national contender.
Last season, Fox guided Nevada to a 25-7 record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, earning Don Haskins WAC Coach of the Year honors along the way. The Wolf Pack won their second consecutive WAC championship, setting the league record for conference wins with a 16-2 record. Nevada earned the school's first at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round after defeating the University of Texas.
Fox also became the first Wolf Pack head coach to reach the 20-win plateau in his first season at the helm and coached both the WAC Player of the Year in Nick Fazekas and the WAC Freshman of the Year in Ramon Sessions.
"We built this program with quality players who have been great people," Fox said. "Those young men have established a level of competitive toughness and effort. We will continue to strive for great citizenship and effort."
Heading into 2005-06, Nevada has turned in four consecutive winning seasons, turned in 20-win seasons in each of the last two years and earned back-to-back WAC titles and NCAA appearances.
Prior to being named head coach, Fox spent the previous four seasons (2000-2004) as the Wolf Pack's associate head coach. He is the 16th men's basketball head coach in Nevada history and replaced Trent Johnson, who resigned at Nevada after five seasons on May 25, 2004 to become the head coach of the Stanford Cardinal.
"Mark has wonderful values and an excellent background," said Dr. John Lilley, University president. "His appointment as head men's basketball coach is an exciting one and we expect him to continue the recent success that Trent Johnson has established."
"When we were looking for the right person for this job, we were looking for somebody who had a high level of integrity and commitment to academics and could lead Nevada basketball to postseason play," said Director of Athletics Cary Groth. "Mark Fox is that person. He has proven to be an integral part of the Wolf Pack family through his ability to be a team player. He brings continuity and competitiveness as a coach which is what separated him from the other candidates."
In 2003-04, Fox helped lead Nevada to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history as the Wolf Pack tied the school single-season record with 25 wins (25-9). Nevada registered upset victories over Michigan State and Gonzaga in the 2004 NCAA Tournament before the Wolf Pack was knocked out by eventual national championship runner-up Georgia Tech in a regional semifinal game. Nevada also tied for a share of the Western Athletic Conference regular-season crown for the first time in school history and captured the WAC Tournament title.
"It is an honor and privilege to lead this program," Fox said. "I look forward to sharing in the daily efforts with our student-athletes, coaches and the rest of the university."
Fox began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach and then as a full-time assistant at the University of Washington (1991-93) where he was on the same staff as former Nevada head coach Trent Johnson. Following his two-year stint with the Huskies, Fox spent six seasons (1994-2000) as an assistant coach at Kansas State University under Tom Asbury before joining the Wolf Pack staff in August of 2000. While a member of the Wildcat coaching staff, he helped guide Kansas State to the NCAA Tournament in 1996 and two appearances in the National Invitation Tournament (1998 and 1999). The Wildcats led the nation in field-goal percentage defense in 1999 and were tops in the Big 12 Conference in that category from 1996-99. Fox also spent the 1993-94 season observing then Kansas head coach Roy Williams and the Jayhawk program while completing coursework on his master's degree.
Fox developed a reputation as a strong recruiter during his 12 years as an assistant coach. He coached 13 players who earned conference honors from the Big Eight, Big 12, Pac-10 and WAC. He signed several of Nevada's current and former players, including Wolf Pack junior Nick Fazekas, who was named the 2005 WAC Player of the Year and an honorable-mention All-American after leading the league in scoring. Fazekas spent the summer of 2005 on the USA Basketball U21 National Team and was a member of the 2004 WAC All-Newcomer team.
Fox also played an instrumental role in bringing 2004 WAC Player of the Year and NBA first-round draft pick Kirk Snyder to the program, as well as former Wolf Pack all-conference selections Todd Okeson and Kevinn Pinkney to name a few.
Fox played college basketball at Garden City (Kan.) Community College (1987-89) under former Nevada head coach Jim Carey and then lettered two seasons at Eastern New Mexico University (1989-91) in Portales, N.M. He was a member of the Academic All-Lone Star Conference First Team in 1991.
He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Eastern New Mexico in 1991 and obtained a Master's of Science degree in Athletic Administration and Sports Psychology from the University of Kansas in 1996.
Fox and his wife, Cindy, have two children: a son, Parker (5), and a daughter, Olivia (3). Cindy is currently the Associate Athletics Director/Sport Support for the Wolf Pack athletics department.
THE FOX FILE