JOLIET — A 20-year college coaching veteran known for turning programs around, Ryan Marks has been named head men’s basketball coach at University of St. Francis, USF Athletic Director Dave Laketa announced this week.
Having served as a head coach for institutions at each of the three NCAA Divisions (I, II and III) during the past 12 years, Marks has compiled an overall record of 187-174 (.518) with four NCAA tournament appearances.
“Ryan’s resume speaks for itself, both in terms of his on-court and classroom success,” Laketa said. “To get the caliber of coach that he represents speaks volumes for our university and program and where it is today thanks to the work of (former USF head coach) John Baines over the past three years.”
Marks comes to USF following a four-year tenure at NCAA Division I University of Texas-Pan American. Taking over a program that had been placed on two years NCAA probation prior to his arrival in 2009, he helped to rebuild the Broncs’ basketball program both on the court and in the classroom.
In his final year at UTPA in 2012-13, Marks guided the Broncs to their first winning regular season (16-15) in five years and just the fourth in 22 campaigns overall. UTPA notched a 5-3 record in Great West Conference play to capture the league’s No. 2 seed in the postseason tournament.
En route to their successful 2012-13 campaign, the Broncs registered a team grade point average of 3.17, which was their highest in a decade and nearly a full point improvement over the team’s GPA in the year prior to Marks’ arrival. Following the season, Marks was a finalist for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award presented by CollegeInsider.com.
UTPA took a major step forward in 2011-12 when Marks’ team improved by five games over the previous year to finish 11-21 and claim a first-round bye in the Great West Conference Tournament. With 10 homecourt wins, the Broncs more than doubled their total of the previous two campaigns combined.
In Marks’ debut season in 2009-10, UTPA posted a 6-27 mark and earned the No. 5 seed in the Great West Conference Tournament. The Broncs toppled the No. 4 seed Utah Valley University 56-53 in the opening round and nearly pulled off a major upset in a 76-71 loss to No. 1 seed University of South Dakota in the semifinals. Plagued by injuries the following season, UTPA finished 6-27 and saw the year end in a 71-70 loss to the University of North Dakota in the GWC Tournament.
From 2004-09, Marks compiled a 91-54 record (.628) in five seasons as head coach at NCAA Division II St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. He engineered a turnaround of that program as well, leading the Hilltoppers — who had never before earned an NCAA postseason berth and were 16-65 in the three years prior to his arrival — to three Division II tournament appearances. He capped his tenure by leading St. Edward’s to an unprecedented fourth straight winning campaign in 2008-09.
“Ryan will tell you that his best overall experience among his many stops along the way came at St. Edward’s, a small Catholic university just like ours,” noted Laketa. “We believe that our university has many of those same likable traits and that when he leaves here, hopefully after he retires, we will have one-upped that experience.”
Marks received his first collegiate head coaching opportunity at Southern Vermont College prior to the 2001-02 campaign. Inheriting a program that had won only nine of 50 games the previous two years, he guided the Mountaineers to a 15-12 record in his inaugural season. He then led Southern Vermont to a 24-6 finish and both the first NCAA Division III tournament appearance and 20-win season in the program’s history the following year. While also serving as Southern Vermont’s head baseball coach, Marks compiled a record of 57-29 (.663) during his three-year tenure.
Prior to his appointment at Southern Vermont, Marks served a six-year stint as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois University (1995-2001) after spending two seasons as an assistant coach at Central Missouri State University (1993-95). During his eight years as an assistant coach, three of his teams — Northern Illinois in 1996 and Central Missouri State in 1994 and 1995 — qualified for NCAA postseason tournament competition.
“As we did three years ago, we had another incredible search committee in selecting a coach that will continue the work that John Baines started,” continued Laketa. “We feel that this program is on the cusp of big things to come and are confident that Ryan Marks is the person who can lead us to the top of the Chicagoland Collegiate Collegiate Athletic Conference and back to the NAIA National Tournament.”
Marks graduated from the University of Southern California in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. While working toward his degree, he served for three years as a player personnel assistant for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and two seasons as head sophomore and assistant varsity boys’ basketball coach at Muir High School in Pasadena.
A Chicago native and 1989 graduate of The Latin School, Marks becomes the fourth head men’s basketball coach in USF history. He replaces Baines, who logged a three-year record of 57-38 before resigning this past April to accept the head coaching position at Elmhurst College.