Utah Valley University men’s basketball coach Mark Pope has signed a new contract that will keep him with the Wolverines through the 2023-24 season. The new contract is a six-year agreement that replaces Pope’s previous five-year deal that was set to expire in 2020.
“We’ve got some real momentum going at Utah Valley University and in our athletic department because of what men’s basketball has been able to accomplish these past three years,” said UVU athletics director Vince Otoupal. “Coach still had two years remaining on his contract but we wanted to be aggressive because he’s the guy that we believe will continue to move us forward. We’re taking every step that is necessary to take our athletic department to the next level.”
Pope recently wrapped up one of the most successful seasons in UVU history as he guided the Wolverines to a school-record 23 wins and the best end-of-season KenPom.com ranking in UVU history (No. 91). Pope has taken the Wolverines from a No. 343 KenPom.com ranking in 2015 to a school-record No. 91 ranking in 2018—the biggest three-year jump in the nation during that time period.
This past season, Pope led the Wolverines to a second-straight appearance at the College Basketball Invitational where the team hosted its first-ever postseason national tournament game in a win over Eastern Washington. In 2017, Pope’s team made a run to the Final Four of the CBI as he guided the team to the school’s first-ever national postseason tournament victories.
Pope’s teams have been impressive in the classroom with his players earning Academic All-WAC honors 19 times. His team continues to hold one of the top team GPAs in the country and has earned back-to-back NABC Team Academic Excellence awards. His 2015-16 team was one of just seven programs in the country to have five of its players named to the NABC Honors Court. He also had two players earn the Honors Court awards during the 2016-17 season.
Pope also played a central role in getting the NUVI Basketball Center constructed and completed in 2017. He helped raise the funds for the 14,500-square-foot building, which is a new practice and conditioning facility that houses both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“This is a really special day for me because my whole heart is here at Utah Valley University,” said Pope. “I’m thankful to President Holland, Val Peterson, and Vince Otoupal for putting their trust in me and showing our program another level of commitment. I love this place and this is where I want to be. Over the course of the last three years, Lee Ann and I have fallen absolutely in love with this university and its unique mission. We love the students and the administrators and faculty here. We’re really proud of what we have accomplished over the last three years but this contract signifies what we really deep down believe that we’re barely scratching the surface of what can be accomplished here. I’m also excited to work with our new president, Dr. Astrid Tuminez, who will be taking our university to another level on a worldwide stage.”
Coach Pope Highlights
- In his three seasons at UVU, Pope has compiled a 52-46 overall record, including a 22-20 mark in WAC play.
- Has made nation’s biggest three-year jump in the KenPom.com rankings, taking the team from No. 343 during the 2015-16 season to No. 91 at the end of the 2017-18 season.
- Won a school-record 23 games during the 2017-18 season.
- Won a school-record 16 games at home this past season, finishing the 2017-18 campaign with a school-record 16-1 record at home.
- UVU currently holds the fourth-longest current home win streak in the nation at 14 games.
- Led team to its first-ever national postseason tournament wins as his team made it to the Final Four of the College Basketball Invitational in 2017.
- Made a second-straight appearance at the CBI in 2018 where the team played its first-ever national postseason home game in a win over Eastern Washington.
- Has led team to back-to-back appearances in the WAC Tournament semifinals.
- Completion of the NUVI Basketball Center.
- Eight of his players have earned WAC postseason honors.
- His players have received Academic All-WAC honors 19 times.
- Has received the NABC Team Academic Excellence Award for three-straight years.
- His 2015-16 team was one of just seven programs in the country to have five of its players named to the NABC Honors Court. He also had two players named to the NABC Honors Court in 2016-17.
- Team holds one of the highest cumulative team GPAs in the country.
- Picked up the team’s first-ever win over BYU, defeating the Cougars 114-101 at the Marriott Center during the 2016-17 season.
- Led his team to one of the biggest comebacks in NCAA history as his team overcame a 27-point deficit to defeat Denver in the Mile High City on Nov. 23, 2016.
- UVU opened the 2017-18 season with what might be the toughest 24 hours ever played in college basketball history as the Wolverines took on No. 4/5 Kentucky and No. 1 Duke on back-to-back nights to open the season.
- UVU’s attendance for the 2017-18 season was a school-record 58,027. The Wolverines also averaged a school-record 3,413 fans per game, breaking the previous record of 2,952 set during the 2011-12 season.