Detroit Mercy hires Mark Montgomery to lead Titans men's basketball

April 03, 2024
A graphic featuring a photo of Mark Montgomery, with text reading Mark Montgomery, Head Coach, Detroit Mercy Men's Basketball and featuring logos for Detroit Mercy Titans and Nike.

Mark Montgomery headshotUniversity of Detroit Mercy has hired Mark Montgomery as the program’s 23rd head coach in school history. Montgomery is a former UDM assistant coach and current assistant coach of the Michigan State University men’s basketball team.

Montgomery was chosen from a pool of more than 100 national candidates. The search process was conducted by an advisory committee of alumni, former Titan student-athletes, donors and supporters, faculty, staff, and University leaders in conjunction with College Sports Associates (CSA), a leading college athletics executive search firm.

Through this process, UDM narrowed the pool to nine semifinalists with four finalists recommended. Montgomery emerged as the top candidate and had a final interview with Donald B. Taylor, president of UDM, and Michael T. McNamara, chair of the University Board of Trustees.

“After spending time with Mark and hearing his vision, we are confident that Coach Montgomery will bring our men’s basketball program back to the national stage,” Taylor said. “His experience, approach to strategy and proven success building winning programs and recruiting the top talent in the state of Michigan and beyond are just a few of the numerous reasons he emerged as the leading candidate.”

Montgomery is equally confident about building a winning team and culture.

“I would like to thank President Taylor, Robert Vowels and everyone on the search committee for giving me this opportunity to be the new head coach at University of Detroit Mercy,” Montgomery said. “Growing up in the area, you heard about the history of the University, the great players, the atmosphere and historic Calihan Hall. Those teams were nationally known and they played the best and beat the best.  I am so honored and humbled to lead the program back to where it was.”

He praised Tom Izzo, legendary coach of the Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team, for whom he worked as an assistant coach.

“To Coach Izzo, I thank you for always being there for me and guiding me through the coaching realm and helping me to get to where I am today. You have been not only a teacher and mentor, but a friend and I thank you for always being there for me.”

Montgomery continued: “To all the fans, alums, former and current student-athletes and the Detroit community, know that I am ready to lead this program and make everyone proud to be a Titan. We will fight and compete and I expect that my players and staff will embrace the hard work and commitment it takes to win. When we do, we will be proud that all of us are in this together as one Titan family.”

UDM Athletic Director Robert Vowels looks forward to Montgomery turning the program around and setting a new foundation for the future.

“Coach Montgomery is a highly distinguished veteran coach who has seen success at both a mid-major and national level,” Vowels said. “His roots in metro Detroit are well known, he has a national presence as a recruiter, and he has seen what it takes to build a program. He has learned from some of the best coaches in NCAA history and was a standout student-athlete. I feel with all that experience, his previous familiarity with the University and the basketball program from the inside will be important for a smooth transition and he is exactly the coach we need to relate to student-athletes today and to bring our program back to the top of the Horizon League.”

Izzo, a Naismith Hall of Fame head coach, believes that Montgomery will make an immediate and long-lasting impact at UDM, given his approach to the game.

“I’m thrilled for Monty and very excited for the opportunity he has as the head coach at University of Detroit Mercy,” Izzo said. “Monty returned to Michigan State three years ago and has been an important part of my staff and our recruiting. He is one of the best and brightest coaches I’ve worked with during my career. Monty has a great understanding of the game, he’s called our offensive sets and is an incredibly hard worker who is very organized and knows how to run a program. Monty played at Michigan State and has spent a good part of his career with our program and while I’m sad to see him leave, I’m happy for him, his wife Alex and their family. I think this is a great opportunity for Monty to run the program in Detroit and look forward to seeing the success he has there.”

A native of Inkster, Montgomery starred in the prep ranks at Aquinas High School and was a four-year starter at Michigan State as a student-athlete. He eventually became an assistant coach for 13 years during two different stints at his alma mater.

Over the last three years with MSU, he helped the Spartans reach 20 wins and the NCAA Tournament in every season. Michigan State also won a game in the NCAA Tournament in all three years, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2023. He was also part of a staff that brought in the No. 5 recruiting class in the country in 2023-24 as ranked by 247 Sports.

Before returning to East Lansing, Montgomery served on the staff at UDM for the final few months of the 2020-21 campaign. During that time, the Titans went 11-3 to finish the year at 12-10, the only winning record for the program in the last eight seasons.

Montgomery was also the head coach at Northern Illinois University (NIU) from 2011-21, leading the team to both a postseason appearance and a victory over a ranked opponent. His 124 wins were the third-most in school history and his 21-win campaign in 2015-16 was tied for the second-most victories in school history. He led the team to a share of the MAC West Division crown in 2019-20, which was only the fifth division title since the school moved to DI in 1967. Under his watch, his student-athletes accumulated three NABC All-District honors, six All-MAC honors, and four MAC All-Freshman Team recognitions and one Lou Henson All-America Team selection.

In 2010, prior to his arrival at NIU, Montgomery was named one of the top five high-major assistant coaches in the country by In addition, then national college basketball writer Jeff Goodman named Montgomery the top assistant coach in the Big Ten Conference based on a poll of league coaches.

Montgomery began his coaching career as an assistant at Central Michigan in 1997-98. Following a 6-23 season in 1999-2000, the Chippewas made a worst-to-first turnaround the following season, finishing the 2000-01 campaign with a 20-8 record, winning the MAC with a conference mark of 14-4.

An outstanding player during his collegiate career, Montgomery played for Jud Heathcote at Michigan State from 1988-92. A 1992 All-Big Ten Third Team selection, Montgomery ended his career as the then-career leader in games played at MSU (126). A four-year starter for the Spartans, he was part of the 1990 Big Ten Championship team, three NCAA Tournament teams and an NIT Final Four team. Montgomery ranks fourth on the career assists chart (561) after leading the team in assists as a junior (169) and senior (190). He also ranks fourth on the MSU career steals list (168). He was also a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and earned his bachelor’s degree in Food Industry Management from Michigan State in 1992.

Following his collegiate career, Montgomery played four years of professional basketball in Europe, where he averaged more than 25 points a game during his time in Germany, Lithuania and Sweden.

Montgomery and his wife, Alexandra, have two sons, Mason and Nicholas, and a daughter, Charlotte Ann.