Final Four

Houston, I have a problem. I’m unemployed and need to find a job, so here I come! Tomorrow at 6 a.m. I fly to Houston to catch up with friends, network and hand out my resume to the tons and tons of coaches in town for the Final Four festivities.

Honestly, I’m a little nervous but also extremely excited for this potentially life-changing weekend. It will be tough but I’m ready. In preparation I have spent hours upon hours working on my personal profile and resume, sending out numerous emails and reaching out with phone calls to colleagues and mentors. The responses I have gotten thus far have been great but yet frustrating at the same time. Almost every person I have talked to has said nothing but good things about me and 99.9% of the time finish our conversation with something along the lines of “you don’t have anything to worry about Mark, you’ll land on your feet.” Really? How in the world do you know that? I try to be a person of integrity, work hard and treat people the right way but how in the world does everybody know that I’m going to be a great coach one day? That time seems SOOO far away. I just want an opportunity tomorrow!

What goes on at the Final Four? This five-day event, attended by the majority of college basketball’s current, former and unemployed coaches, numerous media outlets and tons of basketball vendors from all divisions of the NCAA, is packed. Most coaches arrive on Wednesday and leave on Sunday prior to Monday’s national championship game so that they can get back to campus for the following week’s workouts with their teams. During the day the majority of the coaches and media personalities get together with old buddies, network with new ones, look back on their seasons and attend the open practices, clinic’s, meetings and trade shows. In addition, a lot of coaches, especially those that are seeking a job, hang out in the host hotel lobby during their down time hoping to shake a hand and pass a resume along to as many potential bosses as possible. For younger guys in the business like me, sometimes you need help getting introduced to coaches so this is where your friends in the business really help a lot. Not all coaches are willing to help other coaches but I am so thankful for those who have been willing to put in a good word for me to a coach they know. Without them, I would have nothing.

At night, many of the major college basketball sponsors (Adidas and Nike), media outlets (CBS and ESPN) and basketball groups (Rising Coaches Elite and Sportstec) have parties for members of the schools they sponsor. These, my friends, are BIG TIME.

With that said, I am praying people give me the opportunity to meet with them to give them a better insight of what I stand for. My loyalty will only be to one man, God, and the character and morals he and my parents have instilled in me. I am eager to show people the reason I coach is to make a positive difference in the lives of the student-athlete, to help them grow as men first, basketball players second and to do what is necessary to help the head coach and his program achieve their goals. That’s it. It’s not talk. It’s fact. Given an opportunity, I am confident my work ethic, passion and skill set will be an asset to any program.

Wherever this job search leads me, I know one thing: God has blessed me in so many ways. The love and support I have around me is tremendous and I am so very thankful for that.

It’s crazy to think I’ve only been without a job for a little over a week because it seems like it’s been forever. However, I continue to learn a lot through out this process that I know will help me in the future. Now however, with making my family proud and achieving my goals as my motivation, it’s time to go find a job.

Thanks for reading!!


About Mark Pancratz's Blog

A native of Schaumburg, Ill., Mark Pancratz played Division I basketball at UW-Milwaukee, earning his degree in marketing and finance. He joined Tennessee's staff in 2006 as a graduate assistant, earning his master's degree in sports management later that year. Serving as a G.A., director of video scouting and assistant to the head coach, Pancratz was an integral part of Tennessee's six-consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. At 26, Pancratz boasts an impressive 18 games of NCAA Tournament experience as a player and/or administrative staff member. He is a member of the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame and voted one of the 100 Legends of Illinois High School Basketball. Pancratz resides in Knoxville and is married to the former Brooke Waddell.
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5 Responses to Final Four

  1. Jourdan says:


    There’s much to be said for a strong work ethic and integrity and you clearly have both. Those are the keys to success, and as you say yourself; you will be successful. I thank you for your hard work and passion for this University and I’m glad you got to experience what makes this place so special to so many people. Yourself and the entire staff will always be remembered for the good times here, and will forever be a part of the Tennessee family. Good luck with your future and may the Lord lead and guide you during this trying time.

  2. Pat Chovan says:

    Good luck, Coach! Stay positive and keep that faith!

  3. BigOrangeFanBeagleMom says:

    You go Mark. I’ve never understood why you were fired, or why you were not mentioned with the 4 who were. I hope you land back at UT. Let’s just hope some reasonableness works out for you. God is good and you will prosper, despite the struggles and tribulations. Unfortunately, that is part of life for so many of us. And we can’t explain it. God speed and Go VOLS!!

  4. Pat Walden says:

    Another excellent insight Coach. Hopefully the coaches you meet will understand you were collateral damage in this whole situation. Would love to see you back here. I hear good possibilities about that. BEST OF LUCK!

  5. Teresa says:

    Best of luck, Mark! Any coach who gives you a chance will get a quality person & a winner. Bless you and know that we love you in Big Orange Country. I’d love to see you back here someday.

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