Mark Edwards has established the Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team as a perennial national power.
Edwards and the Bears joined an illustrious group of teams who have won back-to-back NCAA Division III National Championships when Washington University captured its second-consecutive crown in 2009.
The Bears joined North Park University (1978-80), University of Wisconsin-Platteville (1998-99) and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (2004-05) as teams that have won consecutive titles.
After leading Washington University to the 2009 National Championship, Edwards was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and Molten/DIII News Division III National Coach of the Year.
He guided Washington U. to a school-record 29-2 overall mark and the 2009 National Championship with a 61-52 victory over Richard Stockton College on March 21, in Salem, Va. Edwards also led Washington U. to the 2009 University Athletic Association (UAA) championship, its ninth in school history.
In 2007-08, Edwards guided WU to its first-ever NCAA Division III National Championship, a 25-6 overall record and a second-straight Final Four appearance. He also mentored D3hoops.com, DIII News, Jostens Awards Recipient and ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honoree, Troy Ruths.
The 2009-10 team ended the season with a 24-3 overall record, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bears also captured their 10th UAA title with a 13-1 conference mark. Graduate student Sean Wallis and senior Aaron Thompson earned All-America honors, becoming the sixth and seventh players in school history to earn All-America accolades in multiple seasons.
In 32 seasons at the helm, Edwards has become nationally known as a successful and well-respected NCAA Division III basketball coach. He has posted a 583-264 (.688) overall record and garnered D3hoops.com (2008), NABC (2008, 2009) and Molten/DIII News Coach of the Year honors (2002, 2008, 2009), along with eight UAA Coach of the Year awards (1988, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2010).
Over the past 26 seasons, the Bears have enjoyed their most success, winning 20 or more games 14 times, participating in 17 NCAA tournaments, and finishing first or second 22 of 26 times in the competitive UAA. Washington U.’s 26-year record in the UAA – 275-86 (.762 winning percentage) – is the league’s best mark since its inception in 1987-88. In addition, 17 student-athletes have earned 27 All-America awards under Edwards, along with eight Academic All-America honorees.
After winning a combined 17 games in his first three seasons, Edwards has guided the Bears to a school-record 29 consecutive winning seasons, while playing a demanding NCAA Division III schedule each year.
In 2006-07, Edwards was named the D3Hoops.com Midwest Region Coach of the Year after guiding the Bears to the Final Four for the first time in program history. Washington U. tied the school record for most wins in a season with a 25-5 overall record, and finished third in the NCAA Tournament, its highest finish in school history. In 2002-03, the Bears won their second-consecutive UAA championship and finished the regular season with a 24-1 record.
In 2001-02, Edwards was named the Molten/DIII News Coach of the Year after guiding the Bears to a school-record 25 wins, against just two losses, a sixth UAA title and a berth in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. That came on the heels of a 23-4 campaign in 2000-01 that, at the time, tied the single-season record for victories.
After playing four years of basketball for the Bears, Edwards graduated from Washington University in 1969. He spent the 1969-70 season as an assistant coach at Washington U., before the program was dropped.
After a brief stint in the Army, Edwards ended up at Washington State University as a graduate assistant coach. Spending one semester as a graduate assistant under former Bear coach Bob Greenwood, Edwards spent the next nine years assisting George Raveling. In Edwards’ last six years with Raveling (1975-81), Washington State compiled a 104-58 record. The .642 winning percentage during that span ranked second in the Pac-10 Conference behind UCLA.
In 1981, with the Washington University program still dormant, Edwards received a phone call from athletics director John Schael. Schael asked Edwards if he might have an interest in restarting the program. Edwards jumped at the opportunity.
As Washington U.’s head coach, Edwards was named the 1986-87 NCAA Division III South Region Coach of the Year. In the summer of 1993, Edwards served as an assistant coach for the North squad at the U.S. Olympic Festival in San Antonio. The North team, coached by Providence University’s Pete Gillen, captured the gold medal.
As a player, the Peoria, Ill., native lettered four years in basketball at Washington University and was the team’s MVP and captain his senior year. Edwards held the school record for most rebounds in a game until the 1999-2000 season, and is 11th in career rebounding with 568.
He and his wife, Mary, have two children, Kari and Todd, and four grandchildren, Kelby, Kendon, Kevin and Makayla.