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Western Illinois names Ryan Brownlee as Head Coach

MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois Director of Athletics Dr. Tim Van Alstine announced the hiring of Ryan Brownlee as head baseball coach. The hiring announcement came Friday (Sept. 28) afternoon. Brownlee replaces Mike Villano who resigned last month, and will take over the Leatherneck program starting Tuesday (Oct. 2).

After spending 15 years as a NCAA Division I assistant coach, the last nine seasons at Iowa also serving as the Hawkeyes’ recruiting coordinator, Brownlee becomes the Leathernecks’ sixth head coach since 1955.

“I am extremely excited to announce the hiring of Ryan Brownlee as our head baseball coach. Throughout his coaching career, especially during his time at Iowa, Ryan worked on player development on and off the field. His baseball knowledge, helping student-athletes succeed in the classroom, and recruiting ties in the region are what made Ryan stand out among a quality group of applicants for our position,” said Van Alstine. “Baseball is in Ryan’s blood, he has grown up around college baseball. Everything we’ve seen and heard about Ryan is that he is a high-quality individual who will work hard to build our program into a contender in the Summit League while making sure our student-athletes graduate. Ryan and his family will be a great addition to Leatherneck Athletics.”

Over the past 12 seasons, Brownlee has had 32 players he coached or recruited get selected in the Major League Baseball draft, and two more sign free agent contracts – including 15 over the past four years. Along with the success on the diamond, Brownlee has seen an average of nine Hawkeyes per year earn Academic All-Big Ten honors during his tenure. A team-record 12 earned the distinction following the 2011 season.

Since joining the Hawkeyes, Brownlee oversaw the program’s recruiting efforts. Perfect Game projected three of Iowa’s last five recruiting classes as among the ‘Top 50′ nationally, including the 48th-best in 2011 and last year’s class that ranked 45th in the country.

Brownlee was recently recognized for his work helping student-athletes succeed in the classroom when he was invited to speak at the American Baseball Coaches Association national convention on the ’10 Rules of Recovery’ and time management planner programs he developed and implemented with the Iowa program.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to lead the Western Illinois baseball program. This is an event that has been building for me for the last 15 years. I do want to thank Jack Dahm and the University of Iowa and Athletics Department. All of the people involved at Iowa have been great to me and my family for the last nine years,” said Brownlee. “Coach Dahm has been a great friend, mentor, and leader to me. I hope that I do all of them proud in joining the Leatherneck Nation.

“I have a lot of goals set in place for our program at Western Illinois. My first one is that our players enjoy the journey. Every year there will be a new journey with lots of challenges. If we enjoy the process and take those challenges head on, our program will get to where we need to get to,” stated Brownlee. “I am looking forward to getting to Western as soon as possible and starting the journey with our players. I am also looking forward to reaching out to the alumni and supporters of Western Illinois Baseball.”

Brownlee worked at James Madison from 2000-03. In his second year, JMU advanced to the tournament championship game, then the following season Brownlee was a part of the 2002 team that won 43 games, the Colonial Athletic Association title and advance to the NCAA Regionals. During those four years, JMU ranked among the national leaders in various offensive categories, including: batting average, scoring, fielding percentage, doubles, triples, and stolen bases.

During his collegiate career at Evansville, playing for his dad coach Jim Brownlee, Ryan was a four-year starter, twice earned All-Conference honors and was an ABCA All-Region selection. Following his senior year, Brownlee received the University’s William V. Slyker award as the Most Outstanding Male Athlete. After graduation he worked as an assistant coach for his dad at Evansville.

His summer coaching experiences include two summers in the Cape Cod League and two summers (2000-01) coaching the Quincy Gems of the Central Illinois Collegiate League.

“My love affair with college baseball started in 1979 when my family moved to Evansville so my father, Jim, could take over the program at the University of Evansville. Some of my first memories growing up were with a rake in my hand at Carson Field. I understand what happens to a program when someone is willing to invest their heart and soul into it,” said Brownlee. “I also want to thank my wife Aimee. Coaches’ wives don’t get enough of the credit they deserve. Without them, coaching would be a near impossible endeavor. I am excited for the community of Macomb to meet her along with my son Jackson and daughter Norah.”

What Others are Saying about Ryan Brownlee

– – Jack Dahm (Head Coach, University of Iowa):
“I think Western Illinois hit a home run with the hiring of Ryan. He’s incredibly smart, incredibly hard working and he’s grown up around the game. I know he will do a great job for Western. He is a dynamic recruiter, a teacher, he’s great in the community and with alumni. This is a huge loss for Iowa, but a huge gain for Western Illinois. I know this much, Ryan is more than ready to be a head coach.”

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