Feb. 11, 2010
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Former UC Santa Barbara women's basketball head coach Mark French was introduced as a "Legend of the `Dome" on Thursday evening during a halftime ceremony of the UCSB-UC Riverside women's basketball game.
French retired in 2008 after 21 seasons at the helm of the Gauchos, taking a moribund program and turning it into one of the premier women's basketball schools on the West Coast. His 438 career victories at UCSB are more than all the other UCSB women's basketball coaches, before and after, combined. French's .687 career winning percentage is also the highest in the program.
When French retired, he had finished with a winning record in each of his final 18 seasons and had directed UCSB to 13 consecutive postseason appearances. In his time as head coach, he led the Gauchos to 12 Big West Conference titles and seven wins in the NCAA Tournament, including the school's first-ever Sweet 16 appearance in 2004.
French was named the Big West's Coach of the Year seven times. He coached four All-Americans and 58 All-Big West honorees, including seven Big West Player's of the Year. Of the school's 22 1,000-point scorers, French coached 19 of them.
French is the third of five "Legends of the `Dome" that have been introduced. In the fall, women's volleyball player Roberta Gehlke was honored and in January, former men's basketball player Carrick DeHart was honored.
"Joining Roberta and Carrick in this first Legends class," French said to the crowd, "would have been unbelievably meaningful under any circumstances, but to have this take place on my 60th birthday ... Let's just say it is a wonderful distraction from the realization that I am getting old enough, well, old enough to be a legend, I guess!"
A second men's basketball legend will be announced prior to the Gauchos' Feb. 13 game vs. Long Beach State, which will be televised on Fox. The final women's basketball legend will be unveiled on Feb. 27 vs. Cal Poly.
Special "Legends Packs" of tickets are available for each of the Legends games. The Pack includes four tickets, four hot dogs, and four sodas for $40. To purchase tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or click here.