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Mike Magpayo becomes first NCAA Div. 1 head coach of Filipino descent

Mike Magpayo is the first NCAA Division 1 head coach of Filipino descent. UC Riverside

Filipino-American Mike Magpayo made history after he became the first US NCAA Division I head men's basketball coach of Filipino descent following his appointment by the University of California, Riverside July 1.

Magpayo, the former associate head coach, will be succeeding David Patrick, who left the Highlanders to become an associate head coach at the University of Arkansas.

"I am honored, humbled, and absolutely thrilled for the opportunity to lead our University of California Riverside Men's Basketball program into the future," Magpayo said in a statement.

"I want to thank AD Tamica Smith Jones and Chancellor Kim Wilcox for this incredible opportunity. Most of all, I am eternally grateful to Coach David Patrick, a true leader, a role model like no other, and a friend."

Magpayo handled the team's defensive schemes and was mainly responsible for the team's vaunted defense that finished in the top 10 in the nation. He was promoted to the associate position just last month.

The Highlanders, who compete in the Big West Conference, tied their best Division 1 record for wins at 17 in the 2019-20 season.

"We are thankful for Coach Patrick and the work he and our staff have done to turn our Men's Basketball program around," said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tamica Smith Jones.

"He and his team have provided a solid foundation for where we want to take this program and by all accounts, we are ahead of schedule. We wish Coach Patrick and his family all the best at Arkansas and I am fully confident Coach Magpayo will keep this team on the upward trajectory it is on."

Before joining the Highlanders, Magpayo spent a season with the University of San Francisco, where the program went 22-7 and advanced to the finals of the CBI Championship.

Magpayo, whose parents Lito and Nenet were both born and raised in the Philippines, also steered Campbell University in North Carolina to one of its best seasons in history, including its first postseason appearance in 25 years. He first served at Columbia University during its most successful run in the Ivy League from 2010-14.

A product of UC Santa Barbara, Magpayo coached high school basketball in Southern California for nine years before moving to the college ranks in 2010. In 2012 he founded the Asian Coaches Association and still serves as its president.

Leo Balayon, athletic director and head coach Bethesda University and the first Philippine-born men's basketball head coach in US men's college basketball, told ESPN5.com that he was happy for Magpayo.

"He's paid his dues and is a good guy. [He] deserves it," Balayon said.

"As a community of Asian coaches here in the US, our collective dream has always been to have someone of full Asian ancestry become a head coach at the D1 level of men's college basketball," he added. "I believe the closest to do it was Jeff Hironaka whose parents are both of Japanese descent. He made it as an associate head coach for D1 Portland State. As the minority of minorities in college basketball, us Asian coaches never thought we'd see this day so we are all very proud of Mike for finally breaking that barrier."