Michael Fly, who has spent the previous seven years as an assistant coach on the Eagles’ staff, has been selected as the head coach of the FGCU men’s basketball program.
Fly has been a part of more than 150 wins the past seven years, six ASUN Tournament Final appearances, three NCAA Tournament victories, three ASUN Tournament titles and three ASUN Regular Season Championships, two berths in the NIT, a CIT appearance and a run to the Sweet Sixteen which captivated the nation and put the Southwest Florida campus on the national radar for good.
The only remaining member from that 2013 Sweet Sixteen squad, Fly has been an integral and loyal member of two staffs which have changed the men’s basketball culture in every facet, resulting in team accomplishments and player developments to coincide with the Dunk City mantra.
“I am excited and humbled for the opportunity that University President Dr. Mike Martin and Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh have given me to lead this program,” said Fly. “I am thankful to Joe Dooley for the lessons I’ve learned from him the last five years and what we’ve built together. I’d also like to thank (coaches) Andy Enfield, Leonard Hamilton, Bernie Bickerstaff and Happy Osborne for helping put me in this position.
“I want to thank our past, current and future student-athletes, because without them we don’t have a program,” Fly continued. “I’m excited about hitting the recruiting trail hard, and I look forward to playing an exciting style of basketball, winning a lot of games and championships and having a lot of fun doing it.”
A 2006 University of Kentucky alumnus, Fly will become the program’s fourth all-time head coach (since 2002; Division-I in 2007), joining Dave Balza (2002-11), Andy Enfield (2011-13) and Joe Dooley (2013-18), who on Wednesday accepted the same position at East Carolina University.
“We are very excited to elevate Michael to this extremely well-earned position,” stated Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh. “He has not only been a significant and loyal contributor to two great mentors over the past seven years, but has grown overall to the point that we believe he is the best overall fit for FGCU men’s basketball at this juncture. We look forward to him building his staff, and for them to collectively work with our quality student-athletes to continue the remarkable success story of our program for years to come.”
Fly, who will turn 35 on May 29, has coached a dozen all-conference selections while with the Green and Blue, including two ASUN Player of the Year honors in Sherwood Brown and Brandon Goodwin, and two ASUN Defensive Player of the Year selections in Bernard Thompson and Demetris Morant.
More recently, Fly is responsible for recruiting Zach Johnson, Brandon Goodwin and Christian Terrell. Johnson is on pace to break the FGCU all-time scoring record as the current redshirt junior has 1,344 career points. Goodwin holds the top-two single-season scoring campaigns in program history in his only two years with the Eagles. Terrell is set to graduate next month as the only player in program history with at least 1,300 points, 500 rebounds and 250 assists.
Of the top-10 players in career points at FGCU, Fly has helped develop eight of them, including all-time leading scorer Thompson (1,835). Additionally, the Fulton, Ky., native has coached both the ASUN all-time assists leader Brett Comer (845; 24th in NCAA history) and FGCU all-time leading rebounder Chase Fieler (714).
A relentless and respected recruiter, Fly has worked tirelessly to build relationships nationally, regionally and particularly in the state of Florida. Of the 13 scholarship players on the 2017-18 team, nine were recruited by Fly and eight hailed from the Sunshine State. Excluding Goodwin’s single-season record of 632 points, 86 percent of FGCU’s points this past season came from Florida natives.
Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, Fly has recruited four of the five incoming student-athletes: Troy Baxter Jr. (UNLV transfer; Tallahassee native), Haanif Cheatham (Marquette transfer; Fort Lauderdale native), Caleb Catto (Southwest Florida Christian HS) and Zach Scott (Fort Lauderdale’s Westminister Academy).
FGCU is one of only 18 teams in the nation to have posted six-straight 20+ win campaigns which have culminated in postseason appearances: 2013, ’16, ’17 NCAA Tournament; 2014, ’18 NIT; 2015 CIT. During Fly’s time on the sidelines with the Eagles, FGCU has secured a 155-86 record (.643 winning percentage).
Fly came to FGCU from Florida State where he was the video coordinator for three Seminoles’ NCAA Tournament teams (2008-11) and worked with future NBA players Okaro White, Toney Douglas, Solomon Alabi, Ryan Reid, Chris Singleton and Bernard James. Fly also served as the assistant director of Leonard Hamilton Basketball Camps during his time in Tallahassee.
In 2007-08, Fly was a corporate and broadcast alliances intern with the NCAA after serving as a video coordinator intern with the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats in 2006-07 under head coach Bernie Bickerstaff. Fly got his start in 2004-05 as a student assistant at NAIA Georgetown College under head coach Happy Osborne, helping the team advance to the Elite 8 that year.
Several programs have had tremendous success promoting from within, most notably at Butler, Gonzaga and Xavier. In 2007, Brad Stevens – now the head coach of the Boston Celtics – was promoted from his assistant coach position with Butler and led the Bulldogs to a 30-4 record in his first season as the head coach before taking them to consecutive National Championship Game appearances in 2010 and 2011.
At Gonzaga, Mark Few was an assistant coach for 10 years before being promoted, and has since taken the Bulldogs from a mid-major Cinderella to a traditional national power which reached the NCAA Championship Game in 2017. Xavier recently lost head coach Chris Mack to the same position at Louisville, but prior to that he was a Musketeers’ five-year assistant before leading the program for the last nine years, leading them to the Sweet Sixteen three times, a pair of Elite Eight trips and a Final Four.
This past year, the Eagles earned an automatic NIT berth with their second-straight outright ASUN Regular Season Championship, and became the only school in the history of the ASUN (since 1978-79) to post six-straight 20-win seasons. From Dec. 29-Feb. 14, FGCU won 13-straight games – the longest in D-I program history, besting a 10-game run in 2014-15.
FGCU set single-season all-time program records for points (2,847; previous: 2,703 in 2015-16), 3-pointers made (254; previous: 251 in 2011-12), free-throw percentage (.740; previous: .714 in 2003-04) and field goals made (1,045; previous: 1,008 in 2015-16), while establishing D-I single-season marks for assists (535; previous: 527 in 2016-17) and free throws made (503; previous: 501 in 2015-16).
In 2016-17, FGCU posted a 26-8 record, matching the program’s D-I single-season wins record and securing the first single-digit loss campaign in the D-I era. The Eagles played their sixth NCAA Tournament game in five seasons after receiving a program-best No. 14 seed and fell just short to No. 3 seed Florida State – the second-tallest team in the nation in 2016-17 – 86-80.
Fly helped lead FGCU to an ASUN Tournament title in 2015-16, advancing to claim its third NCAA Tournament win in four years with a 96-65 victory over fellow No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the First Four – with the 31-point margin of victory in that round of the tournament being the largest in NCAA history.
In 2014-15, FGCU (22-11, 11-3 ASUN) finished with the second-most wins of any D-I team in Florida (North Florida, 23), and a 10-game winning streak during conference action which at the time was the longest in D-I program history.
Fly was instrumental in guiding the Eagles to their initial ASUN Regular Season Championship and first trip to the NIT in 2013-14. FGCU finished the year with a 22-13 record, including a record 14 wins as part of a 14-4 ASUN mark.
In 2012-13, FGCU (26-11, 13-5 ASUN) again appeared in the ASUN Tournament Final; this time turning in the most impressive 40 minutes in program history up to that point by defeating No. 1 seed and host Mercer, 88-75, on its home floor to become the first team into the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Deemed a No. 15 seed and sent to Philadelphia, the Eagles captured the hearts of the city and the nation by defeating No. 2 seed Georgetown, 78-68, before extending their win streak to seven games with another double-figure win over No. 7 seed San Diego State, 81-71. FGCU’s high-flying attack – which culminated in a then-program-record 148 dunks – helped the Eagles become the only No. 15 seed in NCAA history to advance to the Sweet Sixteen and the first team since Florida in 1987 to win its first two NCAA Tournament contests.
In 2011-12 under then-head coach Enfield, the Eagles advanced to the ASUN Tournament Final in the program’s first year of postseason eligibility, falling just 20 minutes short of the NCAA Tournament and finishing with 15 wins.
THE FLY FILE
Alma Mater: University of Kentucky, 2006
Birthdate: May 29, 1983
Hometown: Fulton, Ky.
2004-05 Student Assistant, Georgetown College (NAIA)
2006-07 Video Coordinator Intern, Charlotte Bobcats
2008-11 Video Coordinator, Florida State
2011- Assistant Coach, FGCU
2018- Head Coach, FGCU
2007-08 Corporate & Broadcast Alliances Intern, NCAA
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT FLY
Fly is an outstanding basketball coach. His hire as head coach brings tremendous pride to all of us who have watched him grow the last seven years into one of the best assistant coaches on the East Coast. His extreme dedication and loyalty to FGCU and to the players he has coached is admired by all. This a great day for Coach Fly and the FGCU men’s basketball program, and we look forward to following the success of the Eagles in the coming seasons.
— Andy Enfield, FGCU Head Coach 2011-14; Current USC Head Coach
Fly is an excellent choice to be the head basketball coach at FGCU. There is no question that he has prepared himself for this position because he has studied the game throughout his career, and will utilize the skills he has learned to be a detail-orientated teacher to all of his players. He will recruit well, and his players will enjoy playing for him because he will be an outstanding mentor during not only their playing careers but throughout their lives. He has grown up on the game of basketball; it’s in his blood. Michael has absolutely put himself in a position to be a successful head coach.
— Leonard Hamilton, Florida State Head Coach
Fly was like a father figure for me all four years at FGCU – he helped get me through college both on and off the court. He’s been a mentor for me as I’ve got into coaching and been there for me almost every step of the way. He’ll keep FGCU moving in the right direction and maybe even higher heights. I couldn’t be happier for him; he’s earned this opportunity by staying loyal to the program and the community.
— Brett Comer, FGCU Guard 2011-15; Current Director of Operations at Dayton
This is an amazing hire for FGCU. It’s not just a stepping-stone job for Fly; he loves FGCU and the surrounding area. Of all the coaches that I’ve played for, none of them keep in contact as often as Fly, and his passion for the FGCU program is incredible. He is a hire that I’m very proud of as an alumnus.
— Chase Fieler, FGCU Forward 2010-14; Current Professional Player
Fly is a tremendous pick as the next head coach. He’s one of those guys you can’t help but respect; I saw him almost as a head coach these past few years even though he was an assistant. He really wants to see guys succeed, and I can’t think of one problem I ever had with him. He brought me in, and it would have been nice to play for him, but I’m proud of him and I’ll definitely be following along closely. He’s going to bring a fast-paced style to the team and program. His worth ethic is second-to-none, and I can only see positive things in the future for FGCU.
— Brandon Goodwin, FGCU Guard 2016-18
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SUPPORT THE CAUSE
FGCU Athletics sponsors events throughout the year to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.