An Era Comes to an End for the Lions
SAINT LEO, Fla. – After 10 years and over 100 wins Saint Leo University head men's basketball coach Mike Madagan has announced that he will be stepping aside after the Lions' February 24th contest against Barry University.
The first and only head basketball coach hired in the University-era at Saint Leo, Madagan has compiled an overall record of 103-183 with two games remaining in his final season, one which has already seen the Lions eliminated from postseason contention. His tenure at Saint Leo has seen him recognize three freshman of the year and six all-conference selections within the Sunshine State Conference.
"This has been a difficult, but ultimately rewarding past few days, weeks, and actually months now for me as I pondered resigning from my position as Head Basketball Coach at Saint Leo University," Madagan said when announcing his decision. "For nearly thirty years I focused my energies and passion on being the best basketball coach I could become. It was how I strived to define myself. Humbly I now understand that failure is an incredible teacher. As a result I have learned many valuable lessons, especially about me. I finally find peace in knowing that God has a plan for all of us, and as we yield to Him we gain so much in every way."
It was a tough realization for Madagan, who has been a fixture within the Sunshine State Conference and the Florida basketball scene since his arrival to then-Saint Leo College prior to the 1989 season as an assistant under Mike Gillespie. Madagan's decision was also a tough dose of reality for those within the SLU Department of Athletics, including Director of Athletics Fran Reidy.
"Coach Madagan embodies all of the values we hold paramount at Saint Leo," said Reidy. "His players grew as people and leaders, were retained and graduated, and contributed to our university community in many facets under his leadership. We are grateful to Mike for his years of service and the positive impact he has had on many young men during their time at Saint Leo."
Grooming great students in addition to talented athletes, Madagan was ultimately not able to put the pieces together on the court, only finishing in the top-half of the SSC in one season at Saint Leo (4th/2005).
"I have been given every opportunity and resource needed to be successful at Saint Leo both on and off the basketball court," Madagan said. "While there were many successes and milestones achieved, we lacked the consistency the program I aspired to build needed and deserves moving forward."
Reidy replied, "I certainly envisioned more wins than we were able to achieve over the last few years, and know the lack of success in the win column was frustrating to all involved with the program, especially Coach Madagan."
In addition to his presence on the court, another aspect of a Madagan-coached team was in using every opportunity as a learning experience, whether it was in trips to Billings, Montana, Anchorage, Alaska or New York City. The second-longest serving men's basketball coach at Saint Leo always tried to expand his team's cultural diversity, from a visit to The White House all the way to a pick up baseball game with underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic.
Madagan continued, "Forever I will be indebted and grateful to (Saint Leo University President) Dr. Kirk and Mr. Reidy for the incredible opportunity they afforded me to mentor and coach so many wonderful student-athletes here. My only regret is that I did not fulfill the potential that they and others in the Saint Leo community believed I possessed when selecting me 10 years ago. Obviously none more so than the young men and their families that have trusted me as their coach.
Sadly I do not step aside with a sense of accomplishment in terms of wins and losses. However, I do believe the program is in a better place as a result of the efforts of many people who preceded me, and because of those that worked diligently alongside me during my tenure here. I strived to live, teach and instill our University's core values that I believe make Saint Leo a unique and special place. I have no doubt the program is poised to achieve new heights in the Sunshine State Conference and beyond, and look forward to what the future of Saint Leo Basketball holds."
With the departure of Madagan, Saint Leo will look to begin a nationwide search for his successor, at the same time reinventing the Saint Leo men's basketball coaching staff. For the first time, the Lions will also use an outside company to assist in the transition.
"We have retained Alden and Associates to assist us with a national search for our next head coach and will provide the new coach additional staffing and resources which are currently lacking when compared to our competitors in the Sunshine State Conference," Reidy said. "I have done an extensive review with Coach Madagan on the areas we felt hampered the program's development, and I have conducted an in-depth review of each of the programs in the Sunshine State Conference to see how we measure up in all facets – scholarships, staffing, support and facilities. We are committed to improving our basketball program in terms of wins and losses, while maintaining all the other positives surrounding it off the court."
Madagan will guide the Lions two final times as their head coach. On Wednesday evening Saint Leo will travel to St. Petersburg, Fla. and face the Eckerd College Tritons, and then will play their final game of the season on Senior Day at home against Barry University next Saturday.