Photo by Georgia Athlertics
Cal Basketball

Fox Introduced as New Men's Basketball Coach

April 1, 2019
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Complete with the straw-hat band, the dance team and a mini light show as he walked onto Pete Newell Court, Mark Fox was officially introduced Monday as Cal’s new basketball coach.

In presenting the first major hire of his tenure as the Bears athletic director, JIm Knowlton said out of an initial field of some 40 candidates, Fox, who has been head coach at Nevada (2005-2009) and Georgia (2010-2018), quickly rose to the top of the list.

“He is a teacher, a leader, he is inspirational in the way he conducts his business every single day,” Knowlton said. “The more I got to know him, the more I researched him, I realized this was the person who was going to help us continue to grow our program.”

Fox replaces Wyking Jones, who was fired on March 24 after two unsuccessful seasons. Knowlton said that Fox’s contract is for five years with the financial terms yet to be finalized.

“It’s a great contract, for him and for us,” Knowlton said.

This will not be the first time Fox has walked into a program that was on the skids. After his successful tenure at Nevada (123-43) he took over at Georgia where the Bulldogs had finished in last place five consecutive years. In his second year, the Bulldogs were 24-12 and in the NCAA Tournament. He reached the NCAAs one more time and had three trips to the NIT. He averaged better than 18 wins per season ‘and produced two SEC Players of the Year.

Given the whirlwind nature of this particular job carousel, Fox has yet to assemble a coaching staff and met with his players for the first time Monday afternoon.

“I have met with some of the staff, not everyone is in town,” Fox said. “Obviously the staff we put together is critical. Each piece has to fit together. ...We’ll make decisions in coming days on some of that. We have had conversations with the current staff.”

One man he would like to hire is Trent Johnson, the former Stanford head coach who was on hand for the news conference. Johnson hired Fox as an assistant when he was head coach at Nevada. When he left Reno for Stanford, Fox succeeded him.

“I hope that I can convince him to have a role with this team,” Fox said. “I’m working on it.”

Johnson was non-committal when asked if he would come aboard.

Fox said that until he actually watched his players in person he was unsure what styles -- offensively and defensively -- he would use.

“It really comes down to who’s on your roster and who you are playing,” Fox said. “We have to find a formula for this group and I don’t know what that formula is. I haven’t been in the gym with them yet. We need to get there and figure out what each kid can do.”

One measure of his adaptability is that at Nevada he had one of the top 15 offenses in the country and at Georgia he got his defense into the top 15.

After the team met with Fox, point guard Paris Austin was favorably impressed. “I think he is going to be good for us,” Austin said. “With his basketball knowledge and experience. I like him. It seems like he’s thought about the things he wants to do and he should make an immediate impact for us”

 

Notes

 

  • Johnson was also involved in Fox’s personal life. He introduced him to his wife Cindy, who along with the couple’s two children, was at the news conference.
  • Fox said he has spoken with the three recruits Cal signed during the early signing period --Joel Brown, Charles Smith iV and D.J,. Thorpe. “I look forward to sitting down with all those kids,” he said. “ I certainly hope that they will choose the number one education in America and help us win.”
  • Former Cal coaches Ben Braun and Dick Kuchen were on hand Monday.
  • Fox said he received 1,200 texts on Friday, the day his hiring was announced.
  • Between the news conference and the meeting with the players, Fox attended a reception with a small group of major Cal donors, all of whom seemed favorably impressed.
  • Fox is a former chair of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee and member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Ethics Coalition. He was asked about the current FBI investigation into college basketball and the “pay to play” scheme. “In one way it’s been embarrassing for the game,” he said. “If it is adjudicated in a way that it sounds like it might be, it could be healthy for the game. Sometimes the pain of that situation can help the game. We’ll see where it ends up.”

 

 

 

 


 

 
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