As reports swirled about Mark Madsen’s potential departure from Utah Valley ahead of the NIT semifinals, the head coach wasn’t with the team for practice or mandatory media availability on Monday.
Instead, Madsen was at home with his wife preparing for the birth of his fourth child. It adds just another layer to how UVU is preparing for its first NIT semifinal appearance on Tuesday — dealing with a head coach who is both absent and might be on the move after the season.
“We are just super excited to be here,” associated head coach Todd Phillips said of how the team is handling it. Phillips has taken over Madsen’s duties while he is away. “[We] are one of eight teams remaining playing, so you know, it’s been a journey of a year.”
Madsen is the leading candidate to become the next head coach at Cal, according to multiple reports. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Cal offered Madsen the job on Sunday.
Madsen is in his fourth season at Utah Valley, carrying a 70-50 record overall. This season, Madsen had the Wolverines 28-8 and on the doorstep of the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament. However, UVU let a 23-point lead slip away in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal game— losing on a four-point play — that kept it out of March Madness.
Still, Madsen’s revival of the small WAC school has made him a top target for a high-major job.
For the Cal job in particular, it would bring Madsen back to California where he grew up. Madsen played college basketball at Stanford, helping lead the Cardinal to the Final Four in 1998 while averaging over 10 points per game.
While Stanford and Cal are rivals, Madsen went to high school at San Ramon Valley, which is closer to Cal than it is to Stanford.
Madsen also played in the NBA for nine seasons after graduating in 2000. He played three years on the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two NBA titles in 2001 and 2002 with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The final six years of his career were spent with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Cal is looking for a new head coach after going 3-29 last year.
It has reportedly reached out to UC Santa Barbara head coach Joe Pasternack in the interview process. But Pasternack just accepted a long-term contract to stay at UCSB.
Kennesaw State head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim and St. Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett were also reportedly in the mix.
It is still uncertain if Madsen will coach UVU on Tuesday against UAB. If his wife has the baby, he will miss the game. If his wife does not have the child, he will fly to Las Vegas and join the team for the game.