Cal Basketball: Mark Fox Reportedly Finalizing Deal to Become Bears' Coach

Mark Fox has a reputation for strong defense.Photo by Randy Sartin - USA TODAY Sports

Former Nevada and Georgia coach also interviewed for Cal job in 2008

Former Nevada and Georgia coach Mark Fox is finalizing a deal to become Cal's new head coach, according to multiple reports.

Unless there is an unexpected last-minute breakdown in negotiations Fox will be Cal's next coach. He would replace Wyking Jones, who was dismissed on Sunday after just two seasons.

The 50-year-old Fox had a 123-43 overall record at Nevada from 2004 to 2009, winning three regular-season Western Athletic Conference championships and leading the Wolf Pack to three NCAA Tournament berths, while twice getting to the second round.

Following his fourth season at Nevada, the 2007-08 campaign, Fox interviewed for the Cal head coaching job that eventually went to Mike Montgomery.

Fox then took the job at Georgia, where he went 163-133 overall and 77-79 in the Southeastern Conference. His Georgia teams reached the NCAA Tournaments twice, losing in the first round both times, and earned three National Invitation Tournament berths.

Overall, Fox is 286-176 with five NCAA Tournament bids in 14 seasons, as well as three NITs and two CBIs. He is 4-10 in those postseason tournaments, including a 2-5 mark in the NCAA Tournament.

Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Constitution wrote this about Fox when he was fired by Georgia in March 2018 after going 18-15 overall and 7-11 in the SEC.

“Like most new coaches, Mark Fox inherited a bad situation. Georgia’s basketball program had been buried by losing and scandal, recruiting was a struggle, academics were an issue and things were such a mess on his team that two players forgot their shoes on the Bulldogs’ first road trip with him as coach. Fox, similar to Mark Richt in football, made everything better in basketball. In the end he didn’t make it good enough.”

Fox's teams have a reputation for their strong defense, but their offenses were often less effective.

In his final season at Georgia, the Bulldogs ranked seventh in the country in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 39.4 percent from the field. But Georgia ranked 301st of 351 Division I schools in scoring that year, averaging 68.1 points.

In 2015-16, Georgia was eighth in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (39.0 percent) and 236th in scoring.

This past season, under Jones, Cal ranked 348th in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot 48.9 percent from the field while compiling an 8-23 record, including 3-15 in the Pac-12.

Fox had two years left on his contract when he was fired at Georgia with a reported buyout of $1.2 million.

At Nevada, Fox was known for being a good recruiter of under-the-radar talent. He signed and developed Ramon Sessions, JaVale McGee, Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson into NBA players, and of those four only Babbitt was considered an elite recruit.

He will need to rebuild at Cal, which has won just eight games each of the past two seasons.

The Bears will return four starters from this season's team, but Darius McNeil, the team's third-leading scorer, has decided to transfer.

Fox began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach and then as a full-time assistant under Lynn Nance at the University of Washington (1991-93). Fox spent six seasons (1994-2000) as an assistant coach under Tom Asbury at Kansas State.

Here are Fox’s records at Georgia:

2009-10 – 14-17 overall, 5-11 SEC

2010-11 – 21-12, 9-7, NCAA Tournament

2011-12 – 15-17, 5-11

2012-13 – 15-17, 9-9

2013-14 – 20-14, 12-6

2014-15 – 20-12, 11-7, NCAA Tournament

2015-16 – 20-14, 10-8

2016-17 – 19-15, 9-9

2017-18 – 18-17, 7-11