Xavier University introduced Chris Mack as its new head men’s basketball coach Wednesday, April 15.
Mack, who is the 17th head coach in program history, succeeds Sean Miller, who recently took over as the University of Arizona’s head coach. Mack spent the past five seasons as an assistant on Miller’s staff at Xavier.
“I was fortunate to have the opportunity to evaluate a number of highly qualified individuals for our head coaching position,” said Bobinski, who also serves on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. “The position our program occupies in the college basketball world today generated a quality group of candidates and any number of them could clearly have been a solid choice. In the end, however, the most impressive candidate, and the person best equipped to lead our program to even greater success in the years ahead, happened to be someone we know very well. I’ve known for some time that Chris was ready to be a successful head coach. I’m very excited to say that he will do so at Xavier.”
“I am excited to welcome Chris as the new head basketball coach at Xavier University,” said University President Rev. Michael J. Graham, S.J. “Chris has been a part of the program’s success both as a student-athlete and a coach. He has proven ready to continue to elevate our program’s stature as one of the nation’s very best, on the court and in the classroom. Chris clearly embraces our Jesuit, Catholic mission of preparing student-athletes to graduate and become men and women for others. He is a great example of what our University and its basketball program are proud to produce.”
Mack, a two-time team captain as a player at Xavier, is 39 years old and a 1992 Xavier University graduate with a degree in communication arts. Mack is the fifth Xavier alumnus out of 17 all-time head coaches to take over the Xavier men’s basketball program and is the first since former Xavier team captain Don Ruberg spent four seasons at the helm from 1963-1967. Joe Meyer (13 seasons from 1920-1933), Ed Burns (one season in 1945-1946) and Harry Gilligan (one season from 1919-1920) are the other Xavier alums that have been named head coach.
Mack was Xavier’s Director of Basketball Operations from 1999-2001 under the late former head coach Skip Prosser. Mack spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Wake Forest under Prosser from 2001-2004. He returned to Xavier in 2004 as an assistant coach under Miller. During his 10 years on the staffs at Xavier and Wake, Mack coached on nine teams that made postseason play, including eight teams that made the NCAA Tournament field. Those eight NCAA teams made the NCAA Second Round three times (2002, 2003 and 2007), the NCAA Sweet 16 twice (2004 and 2009) and the NCAA Elite Eight once (2008).
“I am honored to be named the new head coach at Xavier University,” said Mack. “I have a great love for Xavier, our loyal fans and the City of Cincinnati. I want to thank Fr. Graham, John Kucia and Mike Bobinski for believing in me and trusting in me to lead our basketball program. My time at Xavier under the leadership of the late Skip Prosser and Sean Miller has served me well and has prepared me for the challenge ahead. I have enjoyed being a part of our recent success, and I am even more excited about Xavier’s potential for the future as we continue to solidify ourselves as one of the elite programs in all of college basketball.”
Mack has logged seven years on the basketball staff at Xavier, including five years under Miller and two under Prosser, helping Xavier make five NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIT. During these past five seasons while Mack was a Xavier assistant, the Musketeers compiled a 120-47 record that included four straight NCAA Tournament berths, three straight Atlantic 10 Conference Regular Season Championships (2009, 2008 and 2007) and an A-10 Tournament Championship (2006). Xavier has recorded four straight 20-win seasons, including 25 wins or more in each of the past three seasons. Xavier advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 this past season (2009), the NCAA Elite Eight and a school record 30 wins in 2008 and the NCAA Second Round in 2007. XU made one NCAA Tournament (2001) and one NIT (2000) in Mack’s two years on Prosser’s Xavier staff, while compiling a combined 42-20 record.
While Mack was an assistant on Prosser’s staff at Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons compiled a combined 67-29 record with the help of such stars as Josh Howard, Darius Songalia and Chris Paul. Wake made the NCAA Tournament Second Round in 2002 and 2003 and the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2004. The 2002-2003 team finished 25-6 overall and 13-3 and in first place in the ACC for the first time since 1995. It was WFU's first outright ACC regular season title in 41 years.
Mack participated in Nike’s 2008 Villa 7 Consortium. The Villa 7 Consortium selected and invited some of the top men’s basketball assistant coaches from around the country to attend an educational symposium held on Nike’s campus in Beaverton, Oregon, in May 2008. The two-day event featured some of the greatest minds in coaching and served as a networking opportunity, as several athletic directors were on hand throughout the course of the program. The chief goal of the symposium was to provide opportunities for assistant coaches, who are considered to be the very best in college basketball.
In 2007, Mack was named to the Rivals.com “Top 25 Assistant Coaches” list. The site referred to Mack as a “solid recruiter and an excellent teacher.” The College Bound Hoops 2008 rankings (recruitingrumors.com) ranked Mack 19th in the nation among assistant coaches.
Mack started his coaching career as the head coach at Mount Notre Dame from 1995-1999 and was named the 1996 Cincinnati Post Coach of the Year.
Mack is a former local prep basketball standout who played college basketball for two seasons at the University of Evansville before transferring to Xavier to finish off his career and earn his undergraduate degree.
Mack had three years as a player under head coach Pete Gillen at Xavier, including the 1990-1991 season when he sat out the games and just practiced due to transfer rules. Mack was voted team captain for the 1991-1992 season before ever playing a game for the Musketeers. He unfortunately suffered a season-ending knee injury to his left knee just eight seconds into Xavier’s first exhibition game that season against CREA Club of Portugal (11-11-91) at Cincinnati Gardens. He suffered an ACL injury to his right knee during a summer league game prior to his senior season of 1992-1993, keeping him out of game action until January. Mack was captain again for his senior season, though, playing in 21 games and averaging 5.2 minutes on a team that finished 24-6, won the MCC Regular Season Championship at 12-2 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Mack was a two-year starter for the Evansville Aces in the 1988-1989 and 1989-1990 seasons under UE head coach Jim Crews. He played six times against Xavier, averaging 10.7 ppg. and recording a 2-4 record against the Musketeers. One of his freshman highlights was a career-high five steals in an 88-82 win over Xavier at UE (2-16-89). Two of his best games during his sophomore year came against Xavier, including 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in a 59-51 upset win of the then-No. 20 Musketeers at UE (1-18-90). He scored 17 points later in the season in a 71-52 loss to the Musketeers at Cincinnati Gardens (2-15-90).
Mack played in 31 games, starting 18 times, and averaged 7.2 ppg. and 3.5 rpg. as a freshman in the 1988-1989 season, helping Evansville to a 25-6 overall record, an MCC Regular Season Championship at 10-2 and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Mack played in 32 games, starting 26 times, and averaged 10.1 ppg. and 6.4 rpg. as a sophomore in the 1989-1990 season while helping the Aces to a 17-15 overall mark and a 7-5 MCC record.
Mack was the 1987-1988 Cincinnati Post Metro Player of the Year and Greater Cincinnati League Player of the Year at St. Xavier High School after averaging 25.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals as a senior. He scored 35 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and had four blocks to lead the Bombers past Lexington (Ky.) Henry Clay in the Blue Chip City Basketball Invitational. He also played in the Ohio All-Star Game and the Ohio-Michigan all-star series.
After his graduation from Xavier in 1992, Mack played for Athletes in Action in 1993 and in Europe in 1994.
Mack was born Dec. 30, 1969, in Cleveland, Ohio. He and his wife, Christi, live in Kentucky with their 2-year-old daughter, Hailee, and their 3-year-old daughter Lainee. Christi, the Director of Basketball Operations for Xavier University’s women’s basketball team from 2001-2003, is now the head girls basketball coach at Colerain High School in Cincinnati.