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UVU signs men’s and women’s hoops coaches to new five-year deals

By Daily Herald - | Sep 28, 2021

UVU head coach Mark Madsen talks to his team during the 96-78 loss at St. John's in New York on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021.

UVU appears to be pleased with the direction of its men’s and women’s basketball programs.

The university made that evident Tuesday when they announced within less than a day that both Mark Madsen and Dan Nielson had signed new five-year contracts.

Madsen’s contract was set to expire in 2022, making his deal a four-year extension, while Nielson’s was going to be up in 2023.

Here is the complete press release from the Wolverines about Madsen’s deal:

“Utah Valley University men’s basketball head coach Mark Madsen has signed a new contract that will keep him with the Wolverines through the 2025-26 season. The new contract is a five-year agreement that replaces Madsen’s previous deal that was set to expire in 2022.

“‘Coach Madsen is man of exemplary character. He practices what he preaches and accepts nothing less than championships in competition, in the classroom, in the community, and in life. Mark has our men’s basketball program on an upward trajectory fresh off a WAC regular season championship,’ said Utah Valley athletic director Dr. Jared Sumsion. ‘I know that he will build on the momentum that he has created over the past two seasons and will continue to compete for WAC Championships and NCAA berths.’

“Madsen enters his third season with the Wolverines this year. After returning just two players, welcoming 16 newcomers, and being picked seventh in the WAC preseason polls last season, Madsen led the Wolverines to a WAC regular season title in 2020-2021, marking only the second league title in UVU history and its first since the 2013-14 season. The Wolverines were one of the most unselfish teams in the nation last season, averaging 16.8 assists per game, which ranked 11th nationally. Madsen’s 2020-21 squad was the only team in the WAC to defeat every opponent in the league.

“‘I could not be more excited for the opportunity to continue to represent Utah Valley University,’ said Madsen. ‘It is an honor and a privilege to work daily with outstanding student-athletes and a first-rate staff. Under President Astrid Tuminez and Vice President Val Peterson, this University has risen to national levels of academic success. The mission and core values of UVU resonate deeply with my wife Hannah and me, and we are incredibly grateful for this opportunity. We have felt embraced by the community and our children love the university environment here. I appreciate the dedicated work of our athletic director, Dr. Sumsion, who has pushed all of us and elevated the entire athletic department to new heights, which had not previously been reached. Our goal is to compete at the highest level year in and year out and we are excited to continue to execute on this vision.’

“Four of Madsen’s players earned All-WAC honors in 2020-2021, including first team, second team, and honorable mention awards. Under his guidance, Fardaws Aimaq became the first player in UVU history to earn both WAC Player of the Year honors and the WAC Defensive Player of the Year award. Aimaq became the first player in 40 years to average 15 rebounds and was the nation’s leader in total rebounds, rebounds per game, and defensive rebounds per game. Aimaq also earned All-District honors and was named a finalist for both the Lou Henson Player of the Year award and the Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year award. Aimaq won the Riley Wallace Award, which is given annually to the top transfer in Division I college basketball. He also was named to the NetScouts All-International team.

“During his first season in 2020-21, Madsen’s team fought through injuries and adversity to pick up 11 wins, including a 68-62 win at North Dakota State, which finished the season with a 13-1 home mark, won the Summit League, and was on its way to the NCAA Tournament. UVU broke the all-time single season team blocks record with an impressive 157 swats in 2020-21.

“Madsen’s players have been equally impressive in the classroom with his team leading the nation with 10 players named to the NABC Honors Court in 2021. His 2020-21 team earned the NABC Team Academic Excellence Award, which recognizes teams with a cumulative team GPA of 3.0 or better.”

Here is the complete release on Neilson’s contract:

“Utah Valley University women’s basketball coach Dan Nielson has signed a new five-year contract that will extend him through 2025-26 season, UVU Director of Athletics, Dr. Jared Sumsion announced on Tuesday. Nielson’s previous contract was due to expire in 2023, making the new contact an extension of three years.

“‘Coach Nielson has high expectations of where this UVU women’s basketball can go, and he and his staff have quickly elevated our program to be contenders in the WAC,’ Sumsion said. ‘I’m eager to see the heights this program can reach as we compete for WAC Championships and NCAA berths. We believe we can become a force in our region. Coach Nielson’s leadership has been transformative, and we’re overjoyed that he’s the one leading our program right now.’

“Nielson coached the Wolverines to their first NCAA Tournament appearance this past spring, where his squad faced overall top seed and eventual National Champion Stanford. That came on the heels of the team’s second consecutive second place finish in the WAC regular season. The team was 13-7 overall (.650) and 10-4 (.714) in the WAC, both program records for winning percentage in the NCAA Division I era. Nielson is also 19-10 in two WAC seasons over his first two years, a .655 winning percentage.

“‘I’m grateful for the trust that our administration has shown in both myself and the coaching staff. I want to thank President Astrid Tuminez, Vice President Val Peterson and Dr. Sumsion for their continued support of our program and of UVU Athletics. I’m also thankful for the other coaches on this staff, each of whom bring so much to the players and the program,’ Nielson said. ‘We’re building something special here and have set high goals for ourselves as we continue to take this program to the next level. The staff and I can’t wait for this next season to get started.’

“Nielson is entering his third season and returns both of his first-team All-WAC selections, Maria Carvalho and Josie Williams. Shay Fano, who also returns, and Nehaa Sohail were both honorable mention All-WAC last season. The first-team distinction for Carvalho and Williams marked the first time the Wolverines had two players named to the All-WAC first-team. It was also Nielson’s third first-team selection; Jordan Holland received the honor in 2019-20. In addition to the most All-WAC selections in program history, 2020-21 also marked the second straight season that Carvalho was named to the WAC All-Defensive Team.

“The program has also seen tremendous continued academic success under Nielson. All 10 of the eligible players received Academic All-WAC this past season and in two years he’s had 19 players receive the honor.

“Utah Valley opens the 2021-22 season on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at home against Park University at 6 p.m. before hosting Fresno State on Thursday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. MT.”

Jay Drowns, UVU Marketing

UVU head coach Dan Nielson talks things over with his team during the WAC semifinal game against Grand Canyon at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Friday, March 12, 2021.

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