FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
NEWARK, NJ—Mike Cole is the new head baseball coach at NJIT after spending the previous nine years as an assistant with three different successful Division I programs, Director of Athletics Lenny Kaplan announced today.
Cole coached at the University of Vermont (2002 to 2004, and 2009); at Manhattan College (2005 to 2008); and most recently at the University of Maine (2010), where the team finished 34-22.
The combined record of the teams he has coached is 261-200-1, with an average of exactly 29 wins a season in nine years. In conference play, Cole’s teams were 144-68, a terrific success rate of .679.
He was the top assistant at Manhattan in 2006, when the upstart Jaspers won their first-ever Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference crown, earning an NCAA Division I postseason berth, and advancing to the championship game of the NCAA Regional against perennial superpower the Miami Hurricanes.
Along the way, the Jaspers defeated nationally-ranked Tulane, San Francisco, and Nebraska, the host team in the NCAA Regional. The losing pitcher for Nebraska in the NCAA Regional vs. Manhattan was Joba Chamberlain, who just a year later would dominate major league hitters as a rookie sensation for the New York Yankees.
In his nine seasons as an assistant, Cole’s teams posted overall winning records seven times, reaching 31 wins, or more, five times. Eight of the nine teams he has coached notched winning conference records, topped by 21-5 for Manhattan in the MAAC in 2007.
“We are very pleased that Mike will be our next head baseball coach,” said Lenny Kaplan in announcing the hire. “Mike is a proven recruiter whose teams have had success at each school where he has coached.
“He has worked for, and learned from, some well-established and successful coaches in the region, and we are excited that his gained knowledge will be used to help NJIT become a winning and competitive program in Division I.”
For his part, Cole is looking forward to his new task. “I want to thank Lenny Kaplan for giving me the opportunity to be the head coach at NJIT,” said the new coach. “Our goal, from day one, will be to work toward turning NJIT into one of the top programs in the Northeast.”
Cole, who hails from Poughkeepsie, NY, and graduated from Arlington High School there, played at Vermont from 1997 to 2001. He was team captain and Most Valuable Player as a senior, earning all-America East honors at third base in 2001. He graduated from UVM as the program’s all-time career leader in games played, doubles, and runs batted in, while ranking second in career hits.
He is a 2002 Vermont graduate, earning a BS majoring in Community Development and Applied Economics, with a minor in Small Business.
He began his coaching career at his alma mater, working under one of New England’s most respected coaches, Bill Currier. And in Cole’s second year on the staff, 2003, the Catamounts set school records for wins in a season overall (32) and in conference (17), while capturing the America East regular season title.
Cole moved to Manhattan, where he served first under head coach Steve Trimper and then under new head coach Kevin Leighton from 2005 to 2008. In Cole’s four seasons at Manhattan, the once-downtrodden Jaspers achieved new heights, emerging as one of the top programs in this part of the country. Their overall record was 127-83-1 (.604) and their MAAC record was 72-27 (.727).
Following the magical run to the NCAA Regional championship game in 2006, the 2007 Manhattan team won 35 games, erasing the school record set just a year earlier. Those Jaspers were 21-5 in the MAAC and advanced to the conference championship game.
After a 31-win season at Manhattan in 2008, Cole returned to Vermont, where the program, in its last year of existence, won 23 games and reached the 2009 America East Conference tournament. As hitting coach, he helped the Catamounts set school records for hits, runs, doubles, and home runs.
Cole was reunited with head coach Steve Trimper at Maine for the 2010 season and the Black Bears posted 34 wins overall and a 17-7 record in the America East.
Cole was recruiting coordinator with all of his teams from 2004 on andManhattan’s 2008 recruiting class was ranked #2 in the Northeast by the authoritative magazine and web site Baseball America.
Mike and his wife, Eliza, who is also a Vermont graduate, are the parents of daughter Payton, who was born in October 2009.
At NJIT, Cole succeeds Brian Callahan, who piloted the Highlanders for 10 seasons, including the last four in the transition to Division I. Callahan is slated to remain at NJIT and will move to an administrative/teaching post as Assistant Athletic Director for Physical Education.
Here are head coaches’ comments from Cole’s playing and assistant coaching career:
Steve Trimper is head coach at Maine. Trimper, as an assistant at Vermont, recruited Cole to play there. Later, as a head coach, Trimper hired Cole twice, first at Manhattan and then at Maine.
Said Trimper: “NJIT couldn’t have hired a better guy. Mike has been a huge part of the success wherever he’s been–at Vermont, as a player and coach; at Manhattan; and, at Maine. Whenever I’ve had a chance to hire him, I’ve jumped at it. I hate to lose him now, but I’m also happy he is getting this opportunity with NJIT.
“He’s going to do an unbelievable job. Mike coaches the way he played. He was a tenacious player at Vermont and that has carried over to his coaching—he is a tireless recruiter and a great teacher, who is totally committed to winning the right way.”
Kevin Leighton, the head coach at Manhattan since 2006 and an assistant at the school before that, goes back with Cole to their days as youth players in upstate New York.
“I can’t say enough good things about Mike. He is an outstanding person who knows how to win and expects to win,” said Leighton, whose Manhattan team is an elite program in the tri-state area. “He’s a very good recruiter and a very good teacher and those are two of the biggest things you need to be successful in college.
“I never hesitated to trust him with any amount of responsibility, whether it was running a practice, coaching third base, or anything else a head coach would do.”
Bill Currier, the former head coach at Vermont, notched 486 wins in 22 seasons, and was the three-time America East Coach of the Year from 2002 to 2006 and three-time New England Coach of the Year, as well.
“Mike’s a perfect candidate for what NJIT needs,” said Currier, who coached Cole and later gave him his start in coaching. “He works very hard and he’s very sharp. He has tremendous recall and a great sense of the whole picture in game situations.
“He can tell you what the count was on the hitter when he was on second base in the sixth inning of a game 10 years ago against Northeastern and how it fit into the outcome. When it comes to recruiting, he works very hard and he has a good eye for evaluation.”