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Alumni Highlight - Matt Margenthaler 

WIU Graduate Leads Minnesota State Men’s Basketball

Courtesy: Cory Johnson 

Minnesota State-Mankato (MSU) appears to be very happy to have Matt Margenthaler (M.S., 2001) as head coach of Mavericks men’s basketball. The profile on the basketball website about the Western Illinois graduate begins with this, “Nine years, six NCAA appearances, four conference titles and four All-Americans.  For some coaches, that’s a career, but for Minnesota State head coach Matt Margenthaler that is just the beginning.”  

Margenthaler, a highly respected college coach, attributes the key to his basketball coaching success as growing up in a coaching family. He is a second-generation coach. His father Jack previously was head coach at Western Illinois and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. His brother Ty serves as an assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin.  

“I just loved the fact that I was able to live in a university setting, and have the opportunity to compete and get better each and every day,” said Margenthaler. Even with 10 years of coaching experience, there are still challenging aspects with his position, such as dealing with 18-24 year olds’ attitudes and meeting the administration’s fundraising expectations.  

Two skills that Margenthaler said are beneficial in his work experience that he did not learn in the classroom, are communication and conflict/resolution.  

“I think that both of these are vital to jobs in athletics and are ones that are very beneficial in most fields,” he said.  

For those individuals just beginning their sports careers, Margenthaler advises individuals to get as much experience as possible at any level. He also recommended talking to as many experienced people in the field, and to ask questions about the profession.  

“One must also understand the issues and pitfalls that exist in athletics today,” Marganthaler said, “You must also understand that you aren’t going to be paid by the hour, so be ready to work long hard hours that you must enjoy, or it will be a short career in athletics.”  

Being a head coach takes a lot of dedication. When he first started his career, he wished he would have known just how many hours were required to be a successful head coach. “You have to be very balanced to be a good coach, husband and father. I am on call 24-7 365 days a year,” he said.  

Margenthaler’s advice to someone new to the coaching ranks is to be more prepared and organized than the other candidates going for the same job.  

“The candidates that I have interviewed over the past 10 years that have really impressed me are the ones that have really researched the position and were the most organized,” Margenthaler said.  

Prior to coming to MSU, Margenthaler served as an assistant coach at South Dakota State University for six seasons. 

Margenthaler and his wife, Dawn, have two sons, Jon Brock and Riley. The couple resides in North Mankato.