Bulldogs Promote Mark Few To Head Men's Basketball Coach

July 26, 1999

SPOKANE, Wash. -

Mark Few, a member of Gonzaga University's men's basketball staff for the past 10 seasons, Monday was promoted to head basketball coach following the departure of Dan Monson to the University of Minnesota.

Gonzaga University President Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., and director of athletics Mike Roth made the announcement at an afternoon press conference on the Gonzaga campus.

Few joined the Bulldogs for the 1989-90 season as a graduate assistant under former head coach Dan Fitzgerald, then was promoted to a fulltime assistant for the 1991-92 season.

A whirlwind 48 hours, which culminated when Monson accepted the Gophers' offer Saturday afternoon projected Few into his inaugural head coaching position.

"I think it's beginning to sink in," Few said when asked if what had transpired had taken hold. "Each and every hour that goes by it begins to sink in. With each and every phone call of the 7,000 a little better piece sinks in as to what's ahead."

But Few said the head coaching position wasn't something he had anticipated happening so quickly after Monson had agreed to a 10-year contract in April, while at the same time naming Few associate head coach.

"This was something I wasn't expecting so soon, but I believe I'm ready for it," Few commented. "We were in no hurry. We were all enjoying where we were in the profession and feeling challenged. I knew with the way we'd been playing, the way we'd been winning and with the media attention Dan was getting it was going to be inevitable (Dan would leave Gonzaga). Dan and I have been together 10 years. That's been the weirdest part of it. Working side by side to a guy for 10 years and all of a sudden it's over. It's like WOW. That's been the hardest, most emotional part of the ride. It's been a partnership. Bill (assistant coach Grier), Scott (assistant coach Snider) and I will add another assistant and the beat will still go on. But again, we've lost one of our partners."

"We are extremely fortunate to have a coach of Mark's caliber right here on our staff," Spitzer said. "He is a gifted strategist, and a man who buys into the University's mission 100 percent."

Roth said there was no hesitation in naming Few as Monson's successor.

"Mark has been an integral part of Gonzaga's success the last eight years," Roth said. "We knew whenever Dan left - this year, next year or whenever - we had a capable replacement within our ranks. I think that speaks well for the program when you can say your last two head coaches were promoted from within. It displays the loyalty they have had as assistants. We wish Dan nothing but the best of luck at Minnesota, but we believe the program is still on a solid course with Mark at the helm. We're not giving Mark the job, he's earned it."

Gonzaga has won 170 games over the past eight seasons, won or shared four West Coast Conference championships, twice captured the WCC Tournament title and has made five trips to post-season play. The most remarkable of those was the Bulldogs' run to the Elite Eight this past season, Gonzaga falling to eventual NCAA champion University of Connecticut in the West Regional Final in Phoenix, AZ, to end a 28-7 season. Gonzaga was ranked 12th in the final ESPN/USA TODAY poll, and seven players return from the Elite Eight team.

Few said Bill Grier, an 8-year member of the staff, has decided to remain at Gonzaga rather than accept an offer to join Monson at Minnesota.

"It was an unbelievable coup for our program to keep Bill. I hope everyone understands the type of financial sacrifice Bill made to stay at Gonzaga. He wants to stay here and be a part of this program. He feels he's responsible for a lot of things that have happened here, and he is," Few said. "He believes in the type of guys we recruit and play with, and he enjoys coaching those guys. He's as loyal as the day is long to Gonzaga. I hope people understand that and come up and congratulate him for that. It will make this such a smooth transition."

Few also said Scott Snider would remain on the staff as an assistant.

"Scott played here. He knows Gonzaga and the type of student-athlete it takes to be successful both on an off the court. With Bill and Scott, we have a solid base. We'll bring in one more assistant, get him up to speed and we'll be fine," Few said.

Don't expect many - if any - changes, according to the sixth head coach in Gonzaga's 41-year NCAA Division I history.

"We're out of the same cog. We've been together this long, we know our system works and we're comfortable with it. Nothing is going to change in regard to that whatsoever," Few said. "I don't think you'll see any changes anywhere. Our same approach to recruiting will hold because we've been so intricately involved in all aspects. You won't see many changes other than the title 'head coach' in front of Mark Few. It's different, but the system and the beat go on.

"Everything is status quo in recruiting. All three early signees are coming. The players we're talking to for the early signing period this fall are all guys Bill and I have been recruiting who are very interested in Gonzaga. I don't think that's going to change."

Few, who was in charge of scheduling, has assembled the toughest schedule ever at Gonzaga for the upcoming season. Included on the schedule are consecutive road games against the University of Cincinnati at the Rock 'n Roll Shootout in Cleveland, OH, Temple University in the Great Eight in Chicago, IL, a trip to Pacific-10 Conference power UCLA in famed Pauley Pavilion, and a meeting with the University of Washington in KeyArena in Seattle, the site where Gonzaga's march to the Elite Eight began last season.

"As an assistant I put together the toughest schedule in Gonzaga history, and I had every intention of playing it as an assistant," Few joked. "It's the type of schedule our players want to play. There's no sense backing down from that. Again, that's crossed my mind, but I have to remember it's the schedule the players want. That's another challenge. We've never played anything like this. We've gradually stepped it up year-by-year. It's going to be a great opportunity for us, and that's how we have to look at it."

While Few's rise to head coach is one of the biggest days of his life, there's one other big day awaiting Few and his wife Marcy. The couple, married June 11, 1994, is expecting their first child in January.

Mark Few
Birthdate: December 27, 1962
Birthplace: Creswell, Oregon
High School: Creswell (Ore.) HS, 1981
College: University of Oregon, 1987
Degree: B.S./Physical Education
Graduate School: Gonzaga University, 1993
Degree: M.A./Athletic Administration

Coaching Experience
1986-88 - Assistant Coach, Creswell (Ore.) High
1988-89 - Assistant Coach, Sheldon (Ore.) High
1990-91 - Graduate Assistant Coach, Gonzaga University
1992-1999 - Assistant Coach, Gonzaga University
April 16, 1999 - Named Associate Head Coach, Gonzaga University
July 26, 1999 - Named Head Coach, Gonzaga University

 

 

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