Now in his third season at the helm of the East Carolina basketball program, Mack McCarthy continues to make strides in the building of Pirate basketball.
McCarthy, who was introduced by Holland as the program's acting head coach Aug. 9, 2007 after serving as the team's associate head coach for two previous years, has led the Pirates to an improved overall record and a higher finish in the Conference USA standings each year as head coach.
The season prior to his appointment as head coach, the Pirates won just six games and finished in last place. That total nearly doubled in his first season (11) and then grew more in his second year.
He directed East Carolina to a 13-17 overall record last season, which marked the highest number of wins for a Pirate squad since the 2003-04 campaign. Of the 13 victories, five came during Conference USA play - matching ECU's top league win total since becoming a basketball member in the Dallas-based conference beginning in 2001-02.
McCarthy guided East Carolina to its best Conference USA finish in 2008-09, ninth. In his first season at the helm, the Pirates notched victories against a pair of Top 50 teams, including the program's first-ever triumph over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent, and produced a three-game win streak in league play for the first time in four years.
A three-time coach-of-the-year selection who has earned a total of 13 conference regular season or tournament titles in 14 winning seasons and produced eight 20-victory campaigns during his head coaching tenure, McCarthy has compiled a 320-196 (.620) record in 17 seasons directing programs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Virginia Commonwealth and East Carolina.
After seven seasons as an assistant coach to Sonny Smith at Auburn, McCarthy got his first head coaching job at Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1985 and proceeded to embark on one of the most prosperous runs of any college program during the next 12 years. The Mocs never experienced a losing season with McCarthy at the helm and won more than 20 games seven times. His record of 243-122 at UTC equaled the most wins ever for a Southern Conference coach.
McCarthy immediately molded the Mocs into a consistent winner, as his first three teams all won 20 games or more and reached the postseason. In his first season he guided UTC to the Southern Conference regular season championship and an NIT berth.
The Mocs went back to the NIT the following year before making the first of five NCAA Tournament appearances, capturing five Southern Conference tournament titles, under McCarthy in 1988.
The Mocs won at a tremendous pace during his 12-year tenure. After 10 seasons, McCarthy had won 204 games, which ranked as the eighth-highest victory total for any coach after the first decade of his coaching career. UTC was the dominant force in the Southern Conference with McCarthy in charge, compiling a regular season mark of 156-54, a .743 winning percentage, from 1986-97 and proved especially difficult to defeat at home.
Under his tutelage, the Mocs turned UTC Arena into one of the toughest places in the country for opponents to play. "The Roundhouse" was rated the "Third Toughest Place to Play in the NCAA" by Sports Illustrated in its 1995-96 College Basketball Preview issue. UTC was 146-30 (.829) inside UTC Arena, including an 83-10 (.892) record against Southern Conference opponents.
In all, seven of McCarthy's teams made trips to the postseason. Over an amazing stretch from 1988 to 1995, the Mocs were either Southern Conference regular season or tournament champions eight times, including three straight from 1993-95 when they swept both the regular season and tournament titles.
In his final season at Chattanooga, McCarthy's 1996-97 UTC team put together the two greatest victories in school history. After earning the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Southern Conference tournament championship, the 14-seeded Mocs turned heads by knocking off third-seeded Georgia 73-70 in the opening round of the Southeast Regional in Charlotte. Two days later, UTC became the first Southern Conference team to advance to the Sweet 16 by upsetting Illinois, and just fell short of the regional final after a close loss to Providence.
The tournament run also aided McCarthy's star player, Johnny Taylor, who was chosen in the first round of the 1997 NBA Draft.
McCarthy's success at UTC speaks for itself. His team won eight regular season conference titles and five tournament championships. He was named Southern Conference Coach-of-the-Year three times and earned NABC Regional Coach-of-the-Year award after guide the Mocs to a 23-7 record in 1993-94.
Prior to the start of the 1997-98 season, McCarthy joined his longtime friend Smith at VCU as associate head coach. He then took over for the retired Smith, a man who he had worked with as an assistant for 12 seasons at three different schools.
In his four years at VCU, the Rams increased their winning percentage each season, culminating with a 21-11 mark in 2001-02. He departed the Richmond campus with a four-year record of 66-55. He wasted little time in turning the program around as his first season of 1998-99 saw him lead VCU to twice as many victories as the previous season in the Colonial Athletic Association. The following year he produced the school's first .500 season since 1996-97.
The top moment in VCU sports history, according to a voting of VCU fans and alumni, came under McCarthy as the Rams opened the ALLTEL Pavilion with a 79-74 win over Louisville in 1999. The 10th greatest sports moment in school history also occurred under McCarthy; and at the expense of East Carolina as Bo Jones threw in a last-second 70-footer for a three-point win.
McCarthy, who grew up in Woodstock, Va., saw his coaching career take root at Virginia Tech, where he graduated in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in education. During his two seasons as an assistant coach (along with Smith) under Don DeVoe, the Hokies earned a top 20 national ranking and NCAA berth in 1974-75.
McCarthy then joined Smith when the latter became head coach at East Tennessee State and again followed Smith to Auburn, where the two worked together and took the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament in 1984 and 1985.
Through his recruiting efforts, McCarthy helped shape and change the identity of Auburn basketball. He was able to convince future NBA All-Star and Basketball Hall of Fame member Charles Barkley to sign with the Tigers, thus changing the course of Auburn basketball.
Barkley wasn't the only future pro to play under McCarthy. Dallas Cowboys' All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens played basketball at UTC, while McCarthy also helped tutor Chris Morris and Chuck Person at Auburn. McCarthy followed his stint at VCU by serving as a television analyst for ESPN and hosting a daily radio show in Chattanooga called "On the Road With Mack McCarthy" for two years before accepting a position on the women's basketball coaching staff at Georgia Tech in 2004.
He also hosted his own weekly radio show for two years in Greenville.
McCarthy and his wife, Jean, reside in Greenville. The couple has one daughter, Katie, who is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia.