MINNEAPOLIS – North Central University baseball will begin a new era during the 2016-17 season under head coach Justin Brown, who brings years of high-level playing and coaching experience to the Rams squad. North Central director of athletics Greg Johnson announced Brown's hire Wednesday after an extensive search and interview process.
Brown comes to NCU following an eight-year career at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio. During his time as a player, he was a two-time team captain and two-time recipient of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character Award – an accolade that is given to just 45 athletes each year around the United States. As a two-year starter at MVNU, Brown was a first team all-conference (Crossroads League) and all-region selection during his senior season. He also made the New York Collegiate Baseball League East-Division All-Star team in 2011 as a pitcher for the Alfred Thunder.
After completing a strong playing career, Brown was hired as an assistant with the Cougars baseball staff, specializing in coaching pitchers and handling recruiting operations. He also served as the strength and conditioning coordinator and assisted with all other day-to-day aspects of the program under the leadership of 28-year head coach Keith Veale. MVNU compiled an overall record of 149-62 (.706) during the four years Brown was an assistant.
Brown's coaching highlights include guiding the MVNU pitching staff to a 3.33 earned run average (ERA) in 2014 (good for 27th in the NAIA), working with eight all-conference pitchers and one All-American during his tenure, and earning recruiting commitments from 10 players ranked in the top 250 in their respective classes in Ohio while leading MVNU's recruiting efforts in 2015 and 2016. In addition to his coaching experience with the Cougars, Brown has served as the Ohio Assistant Scouting Director for Prep Baseball Report for the last two years, and as a pitching coach and instructor with Ohio Elite Baseball since 2014.
At North Central, Brown will take over a baseball program with a young, emerging roster. The Rams expect to return almost every player from the 2015-16 squad, and anticipate one of the best freshman classes in the history of the program. In his first few weeks leading the team, Brown will quickly begin developing student-athletes in both their sport and their personal faith in Christ – a strength that stood out to Johnson during the interview process.
"Justin's passion for leading men in both baseball and personal faith development is clear, and I'm excited for our students, both present and future, to be the recipients of that spirit," Johnson said. "In addition, Coach Brown's background working with legends in and around the game will only help grow our baseball program. We're excited to welcome Justin and his wife, Ashley, to the NCU family."
Brown graduated from MVNU in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in sports management and psychology and is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in education from the same institution. In addition to his coaching duties at North Central, Brown will serve as the athletics event manager.
"I want to thank Greg Johnson along with the search committee and administration at North Central for entrusting me with leading the baseball program," Brown said. "It is an opportunity that my wife and I are thrilled to begin. We are excited about the opportunity to build a vibrant culture in the years to come. We look forward to creating an environment that seeks to plant its roots down in competitive college baseball, while seeking to follow Jesus and honor him in everything that we do."
Coach Brown will join the NCU staff in late August prior to campus "Welcome Week" activities. His career leading the Rams program will begin with the team's nontraditional practice segment this fall, and they'll kick off the 2017 season with a spring break trip in the southern U.S. followed by a home doubleheader in the newly-opened US Bank Stadium.