NSU tabs Downey as men’s basketball head coach
TNE Editor

NSU tabs Downey as men’s basketball head coach

Published 4/11/17

Matt Reynolds

TNE Writer

NSU has officially hired Mark Downey to be the next head basketball coach for the RiverHawk men’s basketball program. Downey has an impressive resume coming from a Division I assistant coaching position at Fort Wayne (NCAA DI). NSU Athletic Director Tony Duckworth was stoked to get a coach the caliber of Downey to lead the RiverHawks.

"This is an exciting day for RiverHawks Nation," said Duckworth.  "Mark Downey surfaced as the clear choice among an outstanding pool of applicants during our national search.  Division II ADs, current and retired basketball coaches highly respect his abilities as a coach.  NSU and Division II basketball are significantly enhanced today by Mark returning to the level he loves.  He clearly understands the D-II model as reflected by the four NCAA tournament appearances he enjoyed as a head coach.  Mark's knowledge of our region will allow him to hit the ground running.  I look forward to the immediate positive impact he will make on RiverHawks’ basketball. Welcome to Green and White Nation, Coach Downey."   

Downey was the top assistant at Fort Wayne helping the Mastodons to appearances in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and the National Invitation Tournament, while going 44-23.  Prior to Fort Wayne, Downey spent the 2014-15 season at Bowling Green where they went 20-12, and he helped direct them into the second round of the CIT.

Downey also has experience at the Division II level as he directed three different programs into the NCAA tournament.

“We can't put into words how excited I am to become the next head men's basketball coach at Northeastern State University," said Downey. “My wife and I want to thank Athletic Director Tony Duckworth and President Turner for believing in us to bring the RiverHawks’ program to national prominence. We are truly grateful and ready to hit the ground running."

Downey watched from just a little ways away as Coach Larry Gipson, NSU’s former men’s basketball head coach, built an impressive program at NSU. The national championship team Gipson assembled stuck out to Downey when he considered returning to the Division II ranks.

"While I was Arkansas Tech, I watched Coach Larry Gipson build a solid program and win a national championship,” said Downey. “The strong tradition at NSU excites me and energizes me. We want to build off that tradition and add to the success of the past. I look forward to consulting Coach Gipson and building a lasting friendship with him and his family. He and his brother, Randy, will be a valuable resource for a program."

Downey had strong words, promising RiverHawk Nation a bright future on the hardwood. The program will be built on hard work and high character players, according to Downey.

"My staff and I will build a roster with high character individuals that love to not only play the game, but work every day to get better,” said Downey. “Two things that I will guarantee to the fans: no team in the country will play harder than the RiverHawks, and we will graduate our players. Our teams will be relentless both on and off the floor."

The hire of Downey looks to be a home run with his experience at the NCAA Division I and Division II levels. The endorsements for Downey from coaches across the country were widespread.

"I have known Mark since the beginning of my coaching career.  We came up in the business together,” said Matt Painter, men’s basketball head coach at Purdue. “Mark works extremely hard and is a hidden gem among college coaches.  He is very knowledgeable, relates very well with young athletes and deserves an opportunity to be a head coach at the highest level.  What Mark has done at each coaching stop is simply remarkable."

West Virginia men’s basketball head coach Bob Huggins praised Downey as a remarkable coach who will do things the right way.

"Mark is like family to me,” said Huggins. “I have watched him mature into a top level basketball coach. He will do big things in this business at the highest level and will do it the right way."

With experience coaching against Downey when he was at Arkansas Tech, Gipson had strong words about the RiverHawks’ hire of Downey.

"Having competed against Mark Downey, I know firsthand what an excellent coach he is,” said Gipson. Congratulations to Tony Duckworth and NSU on hiring an outstanding men's basketball coach."

Downey will be introduced as the RiverHawks’ head coach in an introductory press conference on Friday morning.

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