Mercer doesn't renew longtime coach Slonaker's contract

Mercer University officials have decided not to renew the contract of head men's basketball coach Mark Slonaker, according to a news release by Director of Athletics Bobby Pope.

"I want to thank Mark for his 11 years of service to the Athletics Department," Pope said in the release. "He has been a great ambassador for the department as well as the University.

The team will play its final regular season game Friday night at home against Kennesaw State and the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in Nashville next week under the leadership of Slonaker, according to the release.

Mercer is 11-17, the Bears' ninth losing season under Slonaker, who is 128-187 since taking over before the 1997-98 season. This year was highlighted by a 96-81 win over Southern California to start the season and an overflow crowd for a visit to the University Center by Alabama, a 90-83 loss.

The Slonaker era was highlighted by a 23-6 mark in 2002-03, which followed a 6-23 mark and was the biggest turnaround in NCAA history, according to records kept the past few decades. The Bears were 13-17 last year. Mercer's only other winning season under Slonaker, a New Jersey native who played at Georgia, was in 2004-05 when it went 16-12.

Telegraph staff writer Michael A. Lough contributed to this report.

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