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April 3, 2009
By John Trent
David Carter, a longtime assistant coach for the University of Nevada, Reno men’s basketball team, was named head coach of the Wolf Pack on Friday in a press conference at Legacy Hall.
The announcement was made by University President Milt Glick and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Cary Groth.
Carter replaces Mark Fox, who was named head coach at the University of Georgia earlier Friday.
“Wow .. . it’s an exciting day for me and my family,” a smiling Carter said following nearly a half minute of applause from an assembled crowd of media, athletes, coaches, alumni, administration and staff. His wife and college sweetheart Kimberly, along with couple’s two children, Alexis, 10, and Cameron, 8, were seated in the front row. “I can’t tell you how proud I am, how excited I am, to be the new head coach here at the University of Nevada.”
Carter added: “I’m excited about this program. You know I’ve been here for 10 years, and I’ve been waiting for the opportunity. This program is not going backwards, I can promise you that. The values and expectations are the same now as they were last year or 10 years ago.”
Carter, 42, joined the Nevada men’s basketball coaching staff in 1999. He was originally hired by former men’s coach Trent Johnson, and was elevated to associate head coach of the Wolf Pack in 2005.
Groth said Carter easily fulfills all the criteria she and Glick were looking for in a replacement for Fox. She listed the criteria as “a person with great integrity, basketball knowledge and experience, respect, enthusiasm, a great recruiter and someone who understands and supports the mission of the University of Nevada, Reno.”
“We believe that Coach Carter exemplifies all of the qualities – plus some – that we need to move the University of Nevada men’s basketball program forward,” Groth said. “He is a player’s coach, who understands the importance of building the character of the young men he coaches. He understands the importance of a college degree and will not accept anything less.”
Glick, who said he met with Carter for an hour on Thursday night, said he came away from the discussion convinced that Cater was the perfect choice.
“We both agree, as does Cary, that anything less than a winning team, all of our players graduating, good citizenship, is failure,” Glick said. “Success is all three of those things. I know David and I agree that each one of them helps the other.”
Carter said Nevada, which has enjoyed an unprecedented run of success over the past six seasons with four NCAA Tournament appearances as well as two other postseason berths, should fully expect to continue to aspire to championships and NCAA berths.
“I’ve been a part of it, I know what it takes,” he said. “I’m going to continue to improve the quality of young men, the student-athletes who come in. We’re going to compete every year for a championship. That’s our goal.”
Carter has been recognized as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation. He made FoxSports.com’s list of the top 10 mid-major assistant coaches in 2007-2008 and was named best assistant coach in the Western Athletic Conference in Street & Smith’s College Basketball National Preview in 2004-2005.
Carter said the process of meeting with Glick and Groth, of seeing his good friend Fox (“He’s like a brother to me,” he said of Fox) leave the University, had been an emotional whirlwind.
“It’s tough,” he said of the emotions he was fighting during Friday’s announcement. “I’ve always wanted to be a head coach, and this is where I wanted to be a head coach. I had the chance at several other universities, but nothing ever felt right.
“This feels right.”
Carter was a standout player for Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., from 1985-89. He was a four-year starter and team captain when the Gaels advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1989, and held the school’s career record for assists for eight seasons. Carter is a 1989 graduate of Saint Mary’s with a degree in liberal studies. He was inducted into the Saint Mary’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
He mentioned his college coach, Lynn Nance, considered one of college coaching’s class acts – as well as one of its finest tacticians – as one of his most important influences. Like his protégé, Nance had a reputation as an intelligent, loyal, soft-spoken yet fiercely successful and competitive coach.
“I wouldn’t be telling you the truth if I told you I wanted to be a coach all my life,” Carter said. “That’s not the truth. I love the game of basketball, but until my sophomore year of college, that was when I realized I wanted to be a coach, and that was because of coach Nance.
“He was a mentor, he has guided me this far in my career, and I talk to him every day. I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to play for him at Saint Mary’s College.”
Prior to coming to Nevada, Carter had served as an assistant coach at Saint Mary’s, Eastern Washington University and Diablo Valley Community College in California.
Both Glick and Groth made a point to praise Fox for his time at Nevada, as well as his wife, Cindy, who has served as a top administrator in the department of intercollegiate athletics.
Said Groth: “Both Mark and Cindy have served our institution and our community in a first-class manner, and they will be missed. You need to understand that we will not only be losing an outstanding men’s basketball coach, but a very exceptional administrator as well.”
For more about the Nevada men’s basketball program, go to the Nevada Wolf Pack website.
John Trent is Senior editor of news and features in Digital Initiatives