As BYU searches for basketball coach, one prime candidate already appears to be off the board

Mark Madsen’s ties to Utah and the LDS Church would have made him an ideal candidate to replace Mark Pope.

(Jane Tyska | Bay Area News Group via AP)Bay Area News Group via AP) California men's NCAA college basketball coach Mark Madsen, center, poses with director of athletics Jim Knowlton, left, and Chancellor Carol T. Christ, right, during a news conference at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, April 3, 2023.

As BYU began its search for Mark Pope’s replacement, one name quickly rose to the top.

But Cal coach Mark Madsen doesn’t sound like a man ready to return to Utah County.

“We love Cal and the Bay Area,” Madsen wrote in a statement on X, in the wake of Pope’s departure for Kentucky. “We are excited and fully committed for the future here at Cal.”

In his first season at Cal, Madsen took a Golden Bears team that went 3-29 the year before and won 13 games.

The quick success led to Madsen signing a contract extension through 2030. That would have Madsen an expensive option for the Cougars anyway. Even before signing this extension, Madsen’s buyout would have reportedly been $4 million.

Madsen would have been an obvious choice to follow Pope in Provo. He is deeply connected to the area. The two-time NBA champion is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Madsen’s wife, Hannah, is from Orem and their children were born in Utah.

He was an assistant coach for the Utah Flash. His first head coaching gig was at Utah Valley, where he replaced Pope. He nearly made it to the NCAA Tournament in his final year with the Wolverines, going 28-9 and earning the head job at Cal.