Mark Downey, who led the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys to consecutive Gulf South Conference championships and NCAA Division II Tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010, has resigned as head men's basketball coach at Arkansas Tech University to accept the same position at his alma mater.
Downey, a native of West Virginia, will become head coach at the University of Charleston (W. Va.).
He was a four-year letterman, an All-West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference performer and a two-year captain at Charleston. He earned his bachelor's degree from Charleston in 1995.
“I would like to send my thanks out to Dr. (Robert C.) Brown and Coach (Steve) Mullins for the opportunity and all the support they gave me here at Arkansas Tech University,” said Downey in a statement released by the Arkansas Tech Athletics Department on Monday night. “Tech was good to me and I wouldn’t have left for any other Division II job but this one. I am very prideful of my West Virginia roots and this opportunity at UC allows me the chance to go back home and be close to my mother and all my siblings.”
Downey was hired as men's basketball coach at Arkansas Tech in April 2006. He inherited a program that had posted six consecutive losing seasons and turned the Wonder Boys into the No. 1-ranked team in NCAA Division II in less than four years.
“Coach Downey has done an outstanding job in re-establishing Arkansas Tech as a basketball program that wins championships," said Tech President Dr. Robert C. Brown. "More than that, he is an outstanding person who runs a high quality program. It is a rare thing when someone is called upon to serve their alma mater and this is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on an individual. While we will miss Coach Downey, we are extremely happy for him and his family. He goes home with our sincere good wishes and deepest appreciation.”
Downey was 77-43 in four seasons as the Wonder Boys' head coach, including a 53-11 mark during his final two seasons in Russellville.
After going 6-21 during a rebuilding season in 2006-07, Downey and the Wonder Boys were 18-11 in 2007-08.
That season was capped by a 65-49 win over Alabama-Huntsville in the opening round of the 2008 GSC Tournament. It was the first postseason win for the Tech men's basketball program since 1996.
The Wonder Boys carried the momentum of that victory over to 2008-09, when they finished with a 23-9 overall record. It was Tech's first 20-win season in 14 years.
Those Wonder Boys defeated Valdosta State 79-66 on March 8, 2009, in the GSC Tournament championship game at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss. It was Arkansas Tech's first-ever GSC championship in men's basketball. The Wonder Boys went on to earn their first berth in the NCAA Division II Tournament, and they notched their first NCAA Tournament win by defeating Benedict College 63-62 on March 14, 2009.
Downey saved his best season with the Wonder Boys for what turned out to be his final season in Russellville.
He led Arkansas Tech to a school-record 30 wins and the first Gulf South Conference West Division regular season title in school history during the 2009-10 season.
Tech defeated Alabama-Huntsville 64-63 on March 7 to win the 2010 GSC Tournament championship, making Arkansas Tech just the fourth school to ever successfully defend a GSC men's basketball title.
The Wonder Boys earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Division II Tournament and hosted the NCAA Division II South Regional for men's basketball for the first time ever. Valdosta State defeated Tech 72-60 in the second round of the regional on March 14 to end the Wonder Boys' season with a record of 30-2.
Arkansas Tech was ranked No. 1 in the nation in seven of the 15 regular season NCAA Division II polls by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
The Wonder Boys' six-week run atop the poll in January and February was the longest consecutive stay at No. 1 for any men's basketball team in GSC history.
Downey was named 2009-10 GSC West Division and NCAA Division II South Region coach of the year.
“We appreciate all the hard work and effort Mark has put into our program and bringing championship basketball back to Tech,” said Steve Mullins, athletic director and head football coach at Arkansas Tech. “We wish him and his family nothing but the very best.”]]>