I don’t think there is any better way to start this segment then to give a couple of legendary coaches one last tip of the cap as 2019 brought us the end of the Hall of Fame Career of Columbia College Head Coach Bob Burchard, and Grace College (IN) coach Jim Kessler.
Coach Burchard is a legend, and I couldn’t top what has already been written, so I won’t even try. Instead, I point you to this great article from The Missourian, which illustrates the life and career of Coach Burchard.
Jim Kessler leaves his legendary coaching career with 780 career victories, 10 conference championships, a Division II National Championship, 9 trips to the NAIA National Tournament, and had 18 total 20 win seasons.
Here is the complete list of coaching changes at the NAIA level thus far:
Bethel College (IN) – Steve Drabyn – Every year we get NCAA D1 assistants who come take NAIA Head Coaching jobs. The former Lipscomb Assistant will look to carry the success they had at Lipscomb over to Bethel in the very tough Crossroads League.
Cincinnati Christian University – Cory Gardner – Cory will take over the program after serving in the Athletic Department for a few years.
Columbia College (MO) – Tomas Brock – As it was stated above, Tomas Brock is replacing a HOFer at Columbia. Brock got to learn under Coach Burchard for four seasons, and I believe Columbia is in good hands.
Freed-Hardeman University (TN) – Drew Stutts – Always a fan of young coaches getting a chance. Drew played at North Alabama and graduated in 2011.
Grace College (IN) – Scott Moore – Another former assistant coach, who is getting his chance to follow a coaching legend that he was able to be mentored by.
Keiser University – Tae Norwood – Tae brings a wealth of experience at the NCAA D1 and D2 level, and was a NABC D2 Assistant coach of the year in 2017-2018. Looking forward to watching this program under Coach Norwood.
Langston University (OK) – TBD
Lourdes University (OH) – Dennis Hopson – Another coach with NCAA D1 coaching experience, and was once an assistant under Rollie Massimino at Northwood. Was a great player at Ohio State as well.
McPherson College (KS) – TJ Eskildsen – After 9 seasons as the assistant coach at McPherson, TJ gets his chance to lead the McPherson program.
Missouri Baptist – Preston Ingram – Really like this hire as Preston is a great guy, and will do well at MoBap.
Mount Marty College (SD) – Todd Lorensen – Really under the radar hire here. Todd is a good young coach, who won a D2 JUCO National Title at a place where winning is tough.
Oklahoma City University – Stan Holt – Replaces one of the “good guys” in Vinay Patel! Holt is no stranger to the Sooner Athletic Conference though, as he comes over from Langston, where he has had some tough teams.
Point University (GA) – Jake Deer – Coach Deer comes over from being the Associate Head Coach at UT-Tyler.
Reinhardt University (GA) – Justin Newton – Justin did an outstanding job at Andrew College, and was named as the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s D1 coach of the year. I have a lot of respect for NJCAA coaches, so hoping he brings success to Reinhardt.
St. Thomas University (FL) – D.P. Harris – Spent 16 seasons as head coach at Saint Vincent College (PA) with 318 career wins under his belt.
Sterling College (KS) – Adam Hooker – Adam has been really successful everywhere he’s been, and had a HOF mentor while at MidAmerica Nazarene in Coach Rocky Lamar. As the assistant at MidAmerica Nazarene he helped guide them to the 2007 NAIA DII National Championship.
Trinity International University (IL) – Greg Miller – Greg was the Head Coach at Cincinnati Christian prior to taking the job at Trinity International. He takes over for Todd Abernethy who is headed back NCAA D1 to be an assistant coach at Florida Atlantic.
University of the Southwest (NM) – Cory Hitchcock – Is coming over from being the head women’s coach at the University of the Southwest.
William Woods University (MO) – Charles Belt – Coach Belt was the assistant for 6 seasons at NCAA D2 Northern Michigan.
A lot of new faces and first time head coaches on this list, but also a few big time names on the move to new schools. NAIA always has a fascinating coaching carousel, and I enjoy seeing good assistants get their shots at Head jobs. There are quite a few assistants now that are well deserving of head coaching jobs, and are just looking for good opportunities. The NAIA has a ton of really good head coaches, both young, old, and everything in-between. As the Summer moves on, I will feature a few of the great head coaches we have at the NAIA level, as well as update this list as schools hire new coaches.
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