Mary Hardin-Baylor's new baseball coach, Ben Shipp, is far from a newcomer to UMHB. In fact he has been working at the university for nearly three decades, most recently serving as the vice president for athletics.
Shipp replaces Derek Dunaway, who was 40-37 in two years as head
coach of the Crusaders.
"After discussions for the past two weeks about the direction of the UMHB baseball program, it became apparent that he still has a great passion for the game," Senior Vice President for Administration & Chief Operating Officer Steve Theodore said. "After thoughtful consideration and prayer, Ben has requested to return to his first love, coaching baseball."
"I'm really excited," Shipp said. "Baseball is in my blood. Once you have been a player and then a coach, it never goes away."
Shipp was UMHB's head baseball coach from 1985 to 1997. Under his leadership the program enjoyed a 277-249-1 record. Four of his teams made trips to the playoffs. In 1994 the team won the conference title, and the 1992 team competed in the NAIA national championship game.
During the last two years of his time as coach, Shipp also filled the role of athletic director for the university. In 1997, the decision was made that he should move into that position full time.
"I just never looked back," Shipp said. "I saw the new role as a challenge, something I knew I could do well."
During Shipp's tenure as athletic director and vice president for athletics, UMHB teams have experienced major successes, including 27 conference championships, 130 All-Americans, 38 Academic All-Americans, and 15 student-athletes who have gone on to compete at the professional level.
Two weeks ago Shipp began the process of looking for a new head baseball coach. UMHB went 21-17 this past season.
"I had no intention of going back into coaching," Shipp said. "It wasn't a conscious thought on my part, but as we talked about the needs of the program, I felt it."
Shipp says that his primary goals for the future of Crusader baseball go beyond wins and losses.
"My philosophy has been that winning is a byproduct of doing things the right way," Shipp said. "Baseball is game of learning to handle failure on your way to success."
"My main goal right now is just to solidify the foundation of the program and make sure we have the types of players that can succeed at Mary Hardin-Baylor, on and off the field," Shipp said. "If we recruit the right kind of student athletes and teach them effectively, we're going to win."
Stepping into Shipp's old office will be Randy Mann. Mann has been a part of the UMHB athletic program since the summer of 1999 when he began serving as head men's golf coach. In that role he led the team to three conference championships. In 2008, he was promoted to the full-time administrative role of associate athletic director. Today's promotion came as a surprise to Mann.
"I was shocked when they first approached me," Mann said. "I am so excited for Ben and about this great opportunity."
Theodore said that the decision to promote Mann was an easy one.
"Randy is a proven leader. He knows UMHB and understands our culture," Theodore said. "He can articulate a vision for athletics that supports our mission and strengthens our position in the conference and the nation."
"The job has been in great hands for 18 years," Mann said. "The changes that have occurred have been amazing, and I couldn't be stepping into a better situation.