Former Catholic University Basketball Coach to Head University of Vermont Program
WASHINGTON (March 1, 2005) - Mike and Maggie Lonergan's
children, Jack and Margaret, will soon be wearing green.
Mike Lonergan, a University of Maryland assistant basketball coach and the most successful head coach in Catholic University history, accepted an offer to become head coach at the University of Vermont late last week.
"I am very excited about becoming the next head coach at Vermont," Lonergan said. "Becoming a Division I head coach has been a lifelong dream of mine."
Lonergan, 39, will continue with Maryland until its season ends and will succeed Vermont Coach Tom Brennan when the Catamounts' season concludes. Vermont is 21-5 and won the America East Conference regular-season championship with a 16-2 record.
"I am delighted that Mike Lonergan will be joining us as our new head men's basketball coach," A. John Bramley, Vermont provost and senior vice president said in a statement. "He combines great success as a head coach with experience in a very competitive conference at the University of Maryland. I am very impressed by his enthusiasm to work with great student-athletes and his commitment to continue the tradition of combining excellence in the classroom with competitiveness on the court.
"Tom Brennan is a tough act to follow, but I know that the program will be in great hands with Mike Lonergan.
Lonergan will inherit a team that is losing four senior starters, including 6-foot-9 forward and NBA prospect Taylor Coppenrath. A national Player of the Year candidate, Coppenrath is the second-leading scorer in the nation (24.7 ppg).
Lonergan, who replaced fellow CUA alumnus and former teammate Jimmy Patsos at Maryland last April, has helped position Maryland for its 12th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Terrapins became the first team in 10 years to beat Duke twice in the regular season earlier this year. Maryland won at then No. 2 Duke, 75-66 on Jan. 26, and added a 99-92 overtime win at home 17 days later.
Lonergan praised Terrapin Head Coach Gary Williams.
"I have always admired Coach Williams as a coach, but working under him this season has shown me just how great a coach he really is," he said. "He has built one of the finest basketball programs in the nation with hard work and determination."
Lonergan concluded his 12-year (1992-2004) stint at CUA with a school-best 251-88 record and the highest winning percentage (.740) in school history. He was the only coach in the nation to lead his team to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen each year between 1998 and 2002. The Cardinals were 102-19 (.843) over his final four seasons and 174-35 (.833) from 1997-2004. They advanced to the Elite Eight in 2000 and set a school winning percentage record (.897) with a 26-3 mark in 2001-02.
"My 12 years as head coach at Catholic University prepared me well for this opportunity at Vermont.," said Lonergan, a 1988 CUA grad who received the university's highest honor, the President's Medal, in 2004. "I will forever be grateful to (former athletic director) Bob Talbot and the CUA administration for hiring me at 26-years-old to run their basketball program. My love for Catholic University, and my family's love for it, will last forever.
"It was a great run. My wife, Maggie (the Cardinals women's basketball coach), and I are very proud of our accomplishments there."
Lonergan was the only coach in the nation at any division to lead his team to seven straight regular-season conference championships (1998-2004). The club was a blistering 88-10 (.898) in Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) regular-season play during that time. His teams qualified for seven consecutive NCAA Division III Tournaments and advanced to at least the second round each year. The Cards captured the CAC Tournament crown three times in his last four seasons and five times overall.
Lonergan guided CUA to its finest athletic moment in Salem, Va., on March 17, 2001 when his team rallied for a 76-62 victory over William Paterson University in the NCAA Division III championship game. The Cardinals punctuated the campaign with a school-record 28 victories and Lonergan was a consensus choice for 2001 National Coach of the Year.
Despite Lonergan's success at CUA, Division I programs weren't rushing to lure him higher up the college basketball food chain. His one-year stint at Maryland, however, provided him the springboard to Burlington, Vt.
"Coach Williams encouraged me to pursue this position throughout the process," Lonergan said. "I will always be grateful to him for giving me this wonderful opportunity at Maryland. I am also thankful to have his blessing to take the Vermont job. I wouldn't have received this position without him hiring me at Maryland."