Mark Pope officially heads to Kentucky as new head coach

Mark Pope officially heads to Kentucky as new head coach

PROVO, Utah (ABC4) — It’s official. Mark Pope, who has served as BYU’s Men’s Basketball Head Coach for the last five years, is joining his alma mater in Kentucky.

The University of Kentucky athletics announced Pope would be returning to be the 23rd head coach of Kentucky’s men’s basketball program.

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“We want to thank Coach Pope for all that he has given to the BYU men’s basketball program in his nine years here as an assistant and head coach,” said BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe in a statement. “His unique combination of passion, dedication, creativity, and excitement has inspired our BYU community. He led our team to a very successful inaugural Big 12 season and left the program in a position of strength moving forward.”

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Pope is a nine-year head coaching veteran amassing a 187-108 career record at both BYU and Utah Valley. In his last five years with BYU, he has taken the Cougars to two NCAA tournaments including a 21-11 record with unexpected success in their year as part of the Big 12 Conference.

Pope previously played for the Kentucky Wildcats in 1995 and 1996. In his two-year career the Wildcats won the regular-season Southwestern Conference championships, the ’95 SEC Tournament title and the 1996 NCAA tournament. Pope captained the team through the NCAA tournament victory and was named to the All-SEC Tournament Team in 1995.

“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball,” Pope said in a Kentucky press release. “Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.”

Holmoe said there is a lot of reason for the Cougar Nation to be excited as the athletics department wished Pope the best in his new coaching position at his alma mater.

“He will always be part of our BYU family,” said Holmoe.

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