MACON—Mercer University head men's basketball coach Mark Slonaker has agreed to a four-year contract extension that will keep him at Mercer through the 2008 season. Slonaker had one year remaining on a four-year agreement that was signed in 1999.
After leading the Bears to the biggest turnaround in NCAA history, from 6-23 to 23-6 in his sixth season, Slonaker has emerged as one of the South's most respected coaches and, this year, even earned national acclaim. He was named Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year as well as the Atlanta Tip-Off Club's Georgia Division I Naismith Coach of the Year. The Rahway, N.J., native was named CollegeInsider.Com's National Coach of the Year, edging a distinguished group of finalists that included Arizona's Lute Olson, Kentucky's Tubby Smith, Wake Forest's Skip Prosser and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan.
The 2002-03 squad at Mercer earned the University's first Division I regular season conference championship while compiling 13 straight wins during one stretch.
Slonaker was thrilled with the opportunity to coach the Bears to even greater heights. "I am pleased we were able to extend the contract for me to remain at Mercer. It shows the University is committed to the long term, just as I am," he said. "I am flattered by the consideration given to me the past few days by other institutions.. However, my family and I want to continue the success we've built on thus far here at Mercer. Not only is there a commitment from Mercer to our coaching staff, but also in facilities as we open the new University Center this fall. I am thankful to Director of Athletics Bobby Pope and President (R. Kirby) Godsey for the commitment."
In making the announcement, Pope was equally pleased with the extension, "Mark is a perfect fit for Mercer. He is an excellent coach and represents our institution with class and dignity while being one of our best ambassadors. I am confident that he will have many more seasons like the one just completed under his capable guidance."