FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University men’s basketball head coach Ed Conroy announced his resignation Friday afternoon (June 30) to accept the position of director of men’s basketball operations at NCAA Division I University of Tulsa.
Conroy, 33, joins the Golden Hurricane staff of newly appointed head coach Buzz Peterson. The 1999-2000 Hurricane squad recorded a school-record 32-5 mark and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's "Elite Eight". Tulsa has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in six of the past seven years.
“We regret losing Coach Conroy, and we wish him and his family well at Tulsa,” said FMU interim athletic director Murray Hartzler.
FMU president Fred Carter expressed similar sentiments. “We are grateful to Ed Conroy for the outstanding job he did as FMU’s head basketball coach. Not only is he a good coach, but he’s a dear friend. We respect his decision to accept the Tulsa job and wish him much success there.”
Hartzler added that “over the next several days, we will evaluate our options and will move as quickly as possible to find a new men’s basketball coach to maintain stability in our program.” He also said that the basketball program, along with all sports in the FMU program, will be evaluated during the coming year.
Conroy recently completed his third season at the helm of the FMU men’s cage program. He guided the Division II Patriots to a 41-40 mark, including a 16-11 record in 1997-98, the best ever mark by a first-year coach at the University.
“Resigning as FMU’s head coach has been an extremely difficult decision,” Conroy said. “But the offer to join coach Buzz Peterson’s staff at the University of Tulsa is an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up professionally. I have tremendous respect for Coach Peterson, and am excited about working for him as he takes over a program that is a perennial top 20 power and was only one game from an NCAA Final Four last year.”
He went on to add, “My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our three years in Florence, and we will miss the university and the community. It has been a privilege to coach at FMU, because of the quality of student athletes in our program. I am grateful for the opportunity that FMU gave me. I’ve had a wonderful relationship with my players, fellow coaches and others at the university. I have been pleased with the progress we’ve made in rebuilding FMU’s program. My family and I will watch the future development of the university and its athletic program with much interest and pride in the coming years. The university and its athletic program are destined for exciting times under the leadership of President Carter and Murray Hartzler.”
In his first season on the FMU bench, Conroy guided the Patriots to the biggest turnaround in NCAA Divisions I and II that year, an improvement of 13 wins. After being picked to finish 11th in the preseason Peach Belt Athletic Conference coaches' poll, FMU challenged for the PBAC regular-season title up until the last weekend of the season, before tying for second. The team's 16-11 record earned Conroy the PBAC "Coach of the Year" award, the first time in conference history a first-year coach had received that award.
In 1998-99, Conroy's troops suffered through a rash of early-season injuries, but won eight of their last 11 games to post a 16-12 record and finish third in the PBAC North Division standings. Injuries and youth (two freshmen starters) played a role during the 1999-2000 season, which saw the Patriots post an up-and-down 9-17 record.
During his three seasons, two of Conroy’s recruits earned PBAC “Freshman of the Year” honors: Will Tucker in 1997-1998 and Charles Sullivan in 1999-2000. Under his guidance, the Patriot cage program had a total of 13 selections to the PBAC Presidential Honor Roll and 17 to the FMU Athletic-Academic Honor Roll.
A 1989 graduate of The Citadel, Conroy came to Francis Marion from Furman University, where he had been an assistant coach for three years. He previously served as an assistant coach at Virginia Military Institute (1993-94) and a part-time assistant at North Carolina State University (1990-93). Peterson was also a Wolfpack assistant during Conroy’s three seasons in Raleigh.