UVU celebrates Coach Mark Pope’s accomplishments, announces interim head coach


OREM — Utah Valley assistant coach Cody Fueger has been named interim head coach of the UVU men’s basketball team until a national search is completed to replace Mark Pope, who announced Wednesday he is departing UVU to become the men’s basketball head coach at Brigham Young University.

“Mark Pope’s impact on Utah Valley University basketball is even bigger than his 6’10” frame,” said Astrid S. Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University. “While his achievements and records at UVU will undoubtedly be discussed at length, the two things I appreciate most about him are his passion and tenacity for seeing student-athletes succeed. We thank him for his service and wish him and his family the very best.”

Fueger just wrapped up his fourth season as an assistant coach at UVU. He has 16 years of collegiate coaching experience with stops at Utah, Louisiana Tech, UC Riverside, Utah State, BYU, and Utah Valley.

Pope, who spent four seasons with Utah Valley, took the program to historic, record-breaking heights. Under his direction, the 2018-19 Wolverines wrapped up non-conference play with an 11-4 record, which is the best non-league record in school history. The 11-4 record was capped off with a 68-64 road win at Fresno State on Dec. 29, one of the best non-conference wins in school history.

Pope's team won 22 straight games at the UCCU Center, the second-longest active home winning streak in the nation. The team won 14 in a row at home to end the 2017-18 season and followed that with eight straight home wins to start the most recent season.

During the 2018-19 season, Pope's team won its first-ever pre-season tournament as the team claimed the middleweight championship belt at the MGM Main Event in Las Vegas, with wins over Hartford and Long Beach State. UVU also picked up its first-ever road win against Weber State in Ogden, defeating the Wildcats 75-63.

Pope’s squad finished second in the WAC standings for a second straight season with an impressive 12-4 conference record. Pope led his 2018-19 team to a school-record 25 wins and a third-straight appearance in the College Basketball Invitational. With these  wins, UVU secured back-to-back 20-plus win seasons for the first time in UVU history. His team also picked up a win over CSUN in the first round of the CBI, marking the third-straight season that the Wolverines have won a game in a national postseason tournament.

Under his guidance, Jake Toolson became the first UVU player in school history to earn WAC Player of the Year honors, while Wyatt Lowell became the first-ever player to receive WAC Freshman of the Year honors. Conner Toolson was named to the WAC All-Tournament team as the Wolverines made a third-straight appearance in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament. This past season, Jake Toolson also became the second player in UVU history to earn AP All-American Honorable Mention honors.
In his four seasons at UVU, Pope:
·      Compiled a 77-56 overall record, including a 33-24 mark in WAC play.
·      Won the 2018 MGM Main Event Middleweight Title with wins over Hartford and Long Beach State in Las Vegas.
·      Helped UVU make the nation's biggest three-year jump in the KenPom.com rankings, taking the team from No. 343 during the 2015-16 season to No. 91 at the end of the 2017-18 season.
·      Won a school-record 23 games during the 2017-18 season, including a school-record 16 games at home, finishing with a 16-1 record at home, an all-time record for UVU.
·      Compiled a 14-1 home record during his 2018-19 campaign.
·      Led UVU to an impressive 30-2 record at the UCCU Center over the past two seasons.
·      Held the second-longest home winning streak in the nation at 22 games from 2018-19.
·      Led his team to its first-ever national postseason tournament wins, and made it to the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational in 2017.
·      Made a second-straight appearance at the CBI in 2018 where the team played its first-ever national postseason home game with a win over Eastern Washington.
·      Made a third-straight appearance at the CBI in 2019 where the team defeated CSUN at home before falling to eventual champion USF in the quarterfinals.
·      Led his teams to three consecutive appearances in the WAC Tournament semifinals.
·      Oversaw the NUVI Basketball Center.
·      Mentored players in earning 10 WAC postseason honors.
·      Coached Jake Toolson to become the program’s first-ever WAC Player of the Year in 2019 and Wyatt Lowell to its first-ever WAC Freshman of the Year honoree in 2019.
·      Supported his players in receiving Academic All-WAC honors 23 times.
·      Received the NABC Team Academic Excellence Award for four consecutive years. His 2015-16 team was one of just seven programs in the country to have five of its players named to the NABC Honors Court. He also had two players named to the NABC Honors Court in 2016-17.
·      Stressed the importance of academic performance, and the team held one of the highest cumulative team GPAs in the country.
·      Picked up the team's first-ever win over BYU, defeating the Cougars 114-101 at the Marriott Center during the 2016-17 season.
·      Led his team to one of the biggest comebacks in NCAA history, overcoming a 27-point deficit to defeat Denver in the Mile High City on Nov. 23, 2016.
·      Opened the 2017-18 season with what might be the toughest 24 hours ever played in college basketball history, as the Wolverines took on No. 4/5 Kentucky and No. 1 Duke on back-to-back nights.
·      Assisted in increasing UVU's total attendance for the 2017-18 season to a school-record 58,027. The Wolverines also averaged a school record 3,413 fans per game, breaking the previous record of 2,952 set during the 2011-12 season. Total attendance during the 2018-19 season was 43,985 for the 15 games played — an average of nearly 3,000 fans per game.