Marist hires Williams' Mike Maker as head basketball coach
As he was six years ago when he was hired at Williams, Mike Maker said he's ready for the challenge of being the head coach at Division I Marist.
"I'm so excited about the opportunity," Maker said on a conference call after Marist made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon. "It's a dream come true for me and our family. We can't wait to get to work."
Maker, the 11th coach in Marist history, will be introduced Wednesday at an 11 a.m. press conference on the Marist campus in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. According to a release from the college, it is Marist's policy not to disclose the terms or the length of the contract.
The Marist coaching job came about when Jeff Bower resigned after one season to take a post as the Detroit Pistons' general manager. Bower, who was an assistant at Marist in the 1990s, had come to the school after spending extensive time in the National Basketball Association. He led the Red Foxes to a 12-19 record last year, the team's sixth-consecutive sub-.500 mark.
Maker, who spent two decades as an assistant coach, leaves Williams after compiling a 147-32 record in six seasons. He took four Williams teams to the NCAA Division III tournament in Salem, Va. Three reached the Final Four, one made it to an Elite Eight there and two played for NCAA Division III championships.
The new Marist coach guided the Ephs to a 28-5 record in 2013-14 and his team played in the national title game. Williams lost a heartbreaking 74-73 decision to Wisconsin-Whitewater on Quadrell Young's coast-to-coast drive to the basket as the clock ran down.
"I've been in this business for 26 years and it's always been a dream of mine to be a head Division I basketball coach," said Maker, "particularly at an institution that has academic integrity, a beautiful campus, wonderful facilities, a supportive administration and a passionate fan base.
"For us, it was a no-brainer. I'm so excited to start working with the players and hit the ground running."
Williams College athletic director Lisa Melendy said Maker told her Monday night that he was taking the Marist job.
"We are sad to lose Mike and Erica [his wife and a member of the Williams athletic department]," Melendy told The Eagle. "It's a big loss for our program."
Melendy said that a search committee will be set up at Williams to find a replacement. She would not discuss a timetable, saying that "We don't want to artificially hem ourselves in."
The athletic director said by late Tuesday afternoon, she had already received one application for the job.
Maker said he has spent much of Tuesday contacting his Williams players to give them the word about his new position. He said it was a very tough day.
"It's very difficult. I'm an emotional coach and I love my players," Maker said. "You develop relationships. You recruit people to an institution and to a program, and I wouldn't be in this position if it weren't for my players.
"We have outstanding young men at such an elite academic institution and a proud basketball tradition at Williams with unprecedented success that's been well documented for four of the past five years -- making a run at the biggest prize at our level. I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish. But make no mistake, today has not been easy."
Marist athletic director Tim Murray said that Maker was on his radar from the start of the search process.
"I knew about his background before I called him," said Murray. "In my first conversation with him, I could sense a strong passion to be successful. That's something a lot of coaches show. With Mike, I felt it on the phone and when he visited us last week on campus, that really validated it for me."
To reach Howard Herman:
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On Twitter: @howardherman.
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