Ryan Marks: UTPA's Next Victim?

Calvin W BoazCorrespondent IIJune 9, 2009

The above photo originally appeared at Utpabroncs.com.


On May 27, Ryan Marks was the recipient of good news and bad news. 

The good news was that he is the new men's basketball coach at the University of Texas-Pan American.  The bad news was that Marks is the new men's basketball coach at UTPA.

In less than a year, interim athletic director Ricky Vaughn has transformed UTPA into one of the worst-run athletics programs in the United States.  In the last 10 months, 10 assistant or head coaches have resigned or didn't have their contracts renewed. 

The previous men's basketball coach, Tom Schuberth, was fired a year removed from being selected as the NCAA Division I Independent Coach of the Year.

DeAnn Craft, the winningest coach in UTPA women's basketball history, resigned on May 15 when Vaughn told her that her contract would not be renewed unless the team won 18 games in 2009-10.  Last year's group won 14 games, the most in team history.

If serving under an inept boss wasn't bad enough, Ryan Marks has to overcome other obstacles.

This time of year, coaches are putting their final touches to their recruiting efforts.  Marks is just now getting started. 

Officially speaking, UTPA is no longer an independent in men's basketball.  The Broncs are now members of the Great West Conference.  However, the conference will not be entitled to an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament until 2015.

Anything is possible, but it is highly unlikely a bid will come their way until then.

To make matters worse, the team is coming off a 10-17 season, and its best player, Emmanuel Jones, has completed his eligibility.

The odds are stacked against Coach Marks, but his background suggests he has a puncher's chance of succeeding.

For the past five seasons, Marks was the coach at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.  While there, he had a record of 91-54 and led the Hilltoppers to the NCAA Division II basketball tournament three times.

Before becoming the head coach at St. Edward's, Marks was the coach at Southern Vermont College for three seasons.  Under his leadership, the Mountaineers had their first 20-win season and first appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.

Based on his track record, Ricky Vaughn will demand results immediately while not offering much support during the process. 

I wish Coach Marks the best of luck.  He is going to need it.