Fresh off his first outright conference championship in program history, Mark Slessinger returns for his seventh as head coach of the University of New Orleans men’s basketball program in 2017-18. Sless signed a seven-year extension to remain at the helm of the men’s hoops squad in the offseason after leading the club to its first March Madness appearance in 21 seasons.
Year six was the breakthrough season for the Privateers as New Orleans went 20-10 overall and 13-5 in Southland Conference play en route to a regular season and conference tournament crown, the first since joining the Southland in 2013.
UNO was the only Louisiana representative in March Madness and Slessinger received coach of the year honors by the Southland Conference, Louisiana Sportswriters Association, NABC and the Louisiana Basketball Coaches Association. He was also honored with the Eddie Robinson Award by the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame. The award goes to a sports figure who embodies the attributes on the legendary Grambling State football coach - excellence in athletics, academics, sportsmanship and citizenship.
Slessinger became the 12th head coach in Privateers history on June 28, 2011 and assumed duties when UNO was transitioning away from Division I status before reversing that decision. In six seasons, he has led New Orleans to 77 wins.
Since joining the Southland Conference prior to the 2013-14 campaign, four Privateers have claimed all-league honors on six occasions, including 2016-17 honorees Erik Thomas (Player of the Year), Christavious Gill (HM All-SLC) and Travin Thibodeaux (All-Defensive Team). Thomas received the Pete Maravich Award, given to the Louisiana Major College Player of the Year, Associate Press All-American Honorable Mention and NABC All-District 23 First Team while Slessinger earned NABC All-District 23 co-Coach of the Year accolades. Thibodeaux was selected to the conference all-academic team.
Slessinger graduated from Aurora University with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1996. He then coached at his alma mater as an assistant basketball coach during the 1995-96 season before moving on to Central Michigan, where he served as an assistant during the 1996-97 campaign.
From there, Slessinger spent three years at Northland Pioneer College (Ariz.), 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 take the top assistant and recruiting coordinator position at Northwestern State. In 11 years at NSU, Slessinger helped the Demons win three Southland Conference titles, earned two trips to the NCAA Tournament and posted signature victories over Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Oregon State and Iowa.
A native of Bloomington, Indiana, resides in New Orleans in Pontchatrain Park with his wife, the former Toni Purvis of Williamston, N.C. The couple has two children, Nola Ann and Holden.