Cal hires 2-time NBA champion Mark Madsen as new head basketball coach

Cal has hired a two-time NBA champion to be its new men’s basketball coach.

The school announced Wednesday that Mark Madsen will be the new leader of the Golden Bears’ hoops program. Madsen, who won two NBA championship rings as a player for the Los Angeles Lakers, comes to Cal after a four-year stint as the head coach at Utah Valley University.

Madsen coached Utah Valley to the WAC regular season title and a trip to the NIT semifinals this season. UVU lost to UAB 88-86 in overtime on Tuesday night in Las Vegas, missing out on a spot in the NIT championship. For those efforts, Madsen was the 2023 WAC coach of the year. Overall, Madsen had a 70-51 record with a 39-25 mark in conference play. Over the past two seasons, UVU went 48-21 with a 25-11 WAC record.

"We conducted an exhaustive search, and one name kept rising to the top — and that's Mark Madsen,” Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said. “Mark is a person of high character, high energy, high intensity, and he's done it the right way. He's intense. He's passionate. He loves his student-athletes, and he loves competing. We want an ambassador for this program who is going to make us proud and develop our young men – both on and off the court. I am absolutely thrilled that Mark will lead our program into the future."

Before his time at Utah Valley, Madsen had stints coaching in the NBA G League, at Stanford and, most notably, a six-year run as an assistant with the Lakers.

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO - MARCH 15: Head coach Mark Madsen of the Utah Valley Wolverines looks on during the second half of their first round game against the New Mexico Lobos in the 2023 National Invitation Tournament at The Pit on March 15, 2023 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Wolverines defeated the Lobos 83-69. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Two-time NBA champion Mark Madsen has accepted the head-coaching job at Cal following four seasons at Utah Valley. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

As a player, the 6-foot-9 Madsen was a star at Stanford and helped the Cardinal reach the Final Four in 1998. A few years later, he was picked in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Lakers and spent four seasons as the backup to Shaquille O’Neal (yes, this Mark Madsen). He also spent six seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It was widely speculated that Madsen would have accepted the position at Stanford had it come open. Instead, the Cardinal opted to retain Jerod Haase despite an underwhelming 14-19 record this season. Haase has a 112-109 record and no NCAA tournament appearances in seven seasons at Stanford.

Cal, meanwhile, is coming off a brutal 2022-23 campaign. The Golden Bears finished 3-29 in a season that led to the firing of Mark Fox. Fox went 38-87 (17-61 Pac-12) in four seasons at Cal.

Madsen has a considerable rebuilding job ahead.

"I am extremely grateful to Chancellor Christ and Jim Knowlton for their belief in me, and for the tremendous opportunity to lead Cal's men's basketball team back to its winning tradition," Madsen said. "Having grown up in the area, I have always admired Cal as an institution and as an athletic program, with so many of my teachers, coaches and friends impressive Cal graduates. We will win with young men who have elite academic and athletic talent and who will represent Cal with pride.”