Athletics director Brian Faison announced Mark Pryor as the 12th head volleyball coach in program history on Jan. 28, 2014. The 15-year collegiate coaching veteran arrives in Grand Forks following a four-year stint as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Baylor.
“We are excited to have Coach Pryor lead our volleyball program,” Faison said at the time of Pryor's hire. “He is the real deal and brings a tremendous mix of coaching experience and enthusiasm for the sport. He is an exceptional recruiter, develops great players, connects well with people and is firmly committed to the academic success of the student-athletes.”
In his first three seasons with the Big XII program, Pryor helped the Bears increase their win total from 16 in 2010, to 18 in 2011 and 20 in 2012. Pryor’s 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes at Baylor were both ranked in the top 20 nationally.
“I am honored that I am the candidate chosen to lead the continued growth of this program,” Pryor said. “My wife and I want to thank Brian and Daniella (Irle) for their help and guidance in this process.
“We are extremely excited about becoming members of the Grand Forks community and UND. When we were on campus and out in Grand Forks, both Amanda and I were very impressed with the generosity, hospitality, and the friendliness of everyone we encountered and their passion for the university itself, and especially the athletic department.”
Pryor returned to coaching following a brief stint away from the profession in 2008 to lead the NCAA Division II program at Texas A&M-Commerce. As the head coach in Commerce, he led the Lions to back-to-back winning seasons, including a 25-10 mark in his last season. Pryor was named the Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts during the 2009 season and tutored the conference’s offensive player of the year.
Pryor’s previous Division I head coaching stint was as the head coach at Louisiana-Monroe in 2005 when he guided the Warhawks to a 15-15 record. Prior to his arrival, the program had averaged just four overall wins and one Southland Conference win for the past 10 seasons. For his efforts, he was named the 2005 Southland Coach of the Year.
Pryor’s first collegiate coaching job was also with the Warhawks as an assistant coach during the 1997 season. He obtained his master’s degree in public relations/communication from ULM while serving on staff there.
In the seven seasons between his stops in Monroe, Pryor served in a variety of roles that included head coaching jobs at North Central Texas College (1998; NJCAA) and Southwest Baptist University (2001-02, NCAA DII) and assistant coaching positions at New Mexico State (1999), USA Volleyball (2001) and Boise State (2003-04).
He inherits a UND squad that won a share of the Big Sky Conference’s regular season championship, the first in any sport at the university. North Dakota finished 22-11 overall and 17-3 in the league, its fourth 20-win campaign in the last five seasons. UND returns a pair of all-league performers in senior setter Nikki Husfeldt (second team) along with Big Sky co-Freshman of the Year Anna Pioske.
A Baylor alum, Pryor has bachelor’s degrees in speech communication and journalism from the Texas-based school. The couple’s two sons are Miles and Mason.