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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024
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Mercer seeks two new head coaches for coming season

<p>Susie Gardner, head coach of Mercer&#x27;s women&#x27;s basketball team, resigned after leading the program for 14 years. She is Mercer&#x27;s winningest-basketball coach with an overall record of 247-189.</p>

Susie Gardner, head coach of Mercer's women's basketball team, resigned after leading the program for 14 years. She is Mercer's winningest-basketball coach with an overall record of 247-189.

Susie Gardner

Susie Gardner, longtime Mercer women’s basketball head coach, resigned on Saturday, ending a 14 year run during which Gardner garnered a 247-189 overall record.

According to Mercer Athletics, her tenure included nine Southern Conference championships, seven postseason appearances and three other appearances in the NCAA tournament. Gardner has the most wins for an individual coach in Mercer basketball history, surpassing Bill Bibb's record in December 2022, and she did so in fewer seasons than Bibb.

"Mercer will be forever indebted to Susie Gardner for the incredible impact that she had on our student-athletes, both on and off of the court, over the course of her 14-year career here in Macon," Mercer Athletics Director Jim Cole said in a statement to Mercer Athletics.

Gardner also has had an outsized impact on another program. Austin Peay State University has placed Gardner in its Athletic Hall of Fame for turning their women’s basketball program around from the mid-1990’s to the early 2000’s. She put together an overall 112-92 record that included a 63-29 run from 2000-2003. 

The job catapulted her into her next head coaching gig, leading an SEC school, the University of Arkansas, before heading to Macon as the women’s program’s tenth coach.

At Mercer, Gardner coached four SoCon Players of the Year, one of whom was Khalia Lawrence, a three-time SoCon Player of the Year from 2016-2018. Lawrence, who played five seasons of professional basketball overseas after Mercer, was a standout for Gardner and kickstarted a run of success that put Mercer basketball on the map.

Gardner herself was recognized as the Southern Conference’s top coach four separate times, from the 2015/16 to the 2021/22 season.

In the past two seasons, Gardner had less success on the court. The Bears went 26-31 overall in the regular season in that span, including a 16-12 record in SoCon games.

The search for a new head coach has started, according to Mercer Athletics.

Greg Gary

Mercer Athletics announced on Monday that it will not be renewing its contract with Greg Gary, who served as the men’s basketball team’s head coach for five seasons.

Gary, who replaced longtime head coach Bob Hoffman in 2019, went 81-79 overall in his time with the Bears. In SoCon play, he led Mercer to an overall 47-53 record.

"He has led the Bears with great integrity, and everyone at Mercer University is grateful for his service and his commitment to our student-athletes who have represented Mercer at the highest level on the court, as well as in the classroom and in the Macon community,” Athletic Director Jim Cole said in a statement to Mercer Athletics.

In his first two seasons in Macon, Gary led the team to consecutive winning seasons since it had winning seasons from 2011/12 to 2015/16. In just his second season, Gary led the Bears to the only SoCon championship game of his tenure, losing to #1 University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Most recently, however, Gary was unable to pull together a team capable of winning more than eight games in SoCon play. While he coached the team to a win in the first round of the SoCon tournament this season, he was unable to deliver a second in the tournament’s quarterfinals. In SoCon tournament games, Gary was 6-4 overall.

A search for the program’s next head coach is underway.

Gabriel Kopp

Gabriel Kopp '26 is majoring in Journalism and Law and Public Policy at Mercer University. He has written for The Cluster since he started at Mercer, and currently works as the Sports Editor. When he isn't studying, he enjoys going for runs and reading the New York Times.

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