Slessinger takes over at New Orleans
Former head coach spent 11 years as Northwestern St. assistant
NEW ORLEANS – Mark Slessinger on Wednesday was formally introduced as New Orleans’ head men’s basketball coach. The 12th head coach in program history, Slessinger served as the top assistant coach for Mike McConathy at Northwestern State for the past 11 years. In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Slessinger served as the recruiting coordinator for the NSU program.
During Slessinger’s tenure at NSU, the Demons won three Southland Conference titles and compiled signature victories against Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Oregon State and a 2006 NCAA Tournament first-round victory against Iowa.
A native of Bloomington, Ind., Slessinger, 37, coached at his alma mater, Aurora, as an assistant coach during the 1995-96 season before moving on to Central Michigan, where he served as an assistant during the 1996-97 campaign.
Following his run at CMU, Slessinger spent three years at Northland Pioneer (Ariz.) College, the last two as head coach. His teams posted a 36-25 record with eight players signing on at the Division I level before he departed to join McConathy’s staff at NSU.
“Our university is excited to introduce Mark Slessinger as our head men’s basketball coach,” UNO athletic director Amy Champion said. “Mark’s track record as an assistant coach and an active participant within the NSU athletic department speaks for itself.”
“Everyone we talked to reiterated that Mark has a unique ability to connect with everyone from student-athletes and campus administrators to boosters and community members. It was clear as we took him around campus that not only was this case, but he was an ideal fit for our university.”
Regarded in coaching circles as a strong recruiter, Slessinger will aim to bring players from around the state of Louisiana to the Crescent City. More than 70 percent of the players on Slessinger’s roster at NSU hailed from the state.
“It was important that we hired someone that could recruit this state and build a program that is part of the conversation for a national championship at the Division II level,” Champion said. “Having recruited, signed, coached and graduated players from all corners of Louisiana, Mark knows what it takes to build a contender from this state and region.”
Slessinger is looking forward to the opportunity to take the reins of a program at the NCAA level, particularly one with a track record of success.
“Becoming the head coach at UNO is a culmination of a lifelong dream to be a NCAA head coach,” Slessinger said. “UNO is a university storied in tradition and history, and I welcome the challenge of bringing success back to the basketball program.”
The long-time NSU assistant believes that his tenure working under McConathy groomed him for his new position. “I have been blessed to work with one of the greats of Louisiana Basketball in Coach Mike McConathy,” Slessinger said. “His knowledge, character, reputation, passion, and love for student-athletes is unparalleled in the state.”
“He has allowed me to have tremendous responsibility and grow over the past 11 seasons and groom me to build a champion at UNO.”
Slessinger will have a heavy task in front of him as New Orleans moves into the Gulf South Conference (GSC), regarded as one of the most competitive leagues at the Division II level.