Griffins hire Mike Connolly as new men's basketball head coach

Mike Connolly has been named the new head coach of the Griffins men's basketball program. He officially starts at MacEwan on April 1.
Mike Connolly has been named the new head coach of the Griffins men's basketball program. He officially starts at MacEwan on April 1.

MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – After an extensive search, the MacEwan Griffins have hired a new men's basketball head coach.

Mike Connolly will take over at the helm of the program, Director of Athletics Ken Schildroth announced Thursday.

Connolly comes with an impressive basketball coaching resume which includes 19 years of head coaching experience at the post-secondary level, most recently as the head coach of the NAIT Ooks in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.

The search committee was chaired by Associate Vice President Students and Teaching, Dr. Lynn Wells, whose portfolio includes Athletics. The committee membership included a Dean, another member of the coaching staff, and a student representative. Team members were engaged throughout the search process.

"I have observed Mike as a student athlete, assistant coach and head coach and watched his development into a high-performance program leader," said MacEwan Director of Athletics Ken Schildroth. "He respects the academic mission of the university, brings a wealth of experience, personal integrity, work ethic and a proven success record to our program."

Connolly has coached more than 400 games in nearly two decades as a post-secondary head coach, including seven seasons as a head coach at the U SPORTS level with the University of Lethbridge (2002-09).

In 2009, he moved to Fort McMurray for a position with Keyano College as men's basketball head coach and Athletics Services Manager. He was promoted to Associate Athletic Director from 2010-13, while leading the Huskies men's basketball team to an ACAC silver medal and seventh place finish at Canadian Colleges Athletic Association nationals in 2013.

Following that, he took the head coaching position at NAIT, turning the Ooks program into an ACAC and CCAA national champion in 2016. He has been named ACAC coach of the year three times (2001, 2002, 2014).

"I'm excited about the opportunity to get back into U SPORTS and compete with high-achieving student athletes," said Connolly. "I think we have a great base of talent at MacEwan to build and develop into a successful program academically, athletically and in the community."

The NCCP Level 3 certified coach has also previously coached at Medicine Hat College (2000-02), with Basketball Canada (2003) and Team Alberta (2002).

He was also an assistant coach at the University of Toronto (1992-96 and 1999-2000), where he helped that institution win the 1995 OUA championship. He continued his contributions to a winning program as an assistant for the University of Victoria men's basketball team (1996-99), helping them win the 1997 now U SPORTS national championship and back-to-back Canada West crowns (1997-98).

In addition to his work behind the bench, Connolly has previously served as Canada West's Top 10 national convenor for men's basketball (2003-09) and treasurer of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (2008-09). He also worked as an instructor in various kinesiology and health studies courses at the University of Lethbridge (2002-04) and Medicine Hat College (2000-02).

Connolly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Thunder Bay, Ont.-based Lakehead University where he played on the men's basketball team from 1985-89.

He will officially start with the Griffins on April 1 as they prepare for the 2019-20 Canada West season.