Northwest College stayed in house to choose its next athletic director last week.
Men’s basketball coach Brian Erickson has taken the reins of the program during uneasy times at the Powell school. Recent budget cuts slashed scholarships and threatened the long-term competitiveness of the sports teams.
Erickson, 34, has been head basketball coach for six years and was previously assistant coach for three seasons.
He assumes leadership of a program in flux. Except for Erickson, who must now swiftly replace himself, rodeo coach Del Nose and wrestling coach Jim Zeigler, all other Trapper head coaches have interim tags in front of their titles.
This school year Northwest’s wrestling, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s basketball teams, as well as the men’s basketball coach to come, will not be considered full-time, permanent hires. They will have the advantage of being on the job, but still will be evaluated to determine if they will retain their slots.
In the meantime, Erickson, who has long said he would like to focus on athletic administration someday, said “I’m really excited” about the promotion.
Erickson’s hoops record is 120-73 with a milestone, 2014-15 season as a highlight. The Trappers finished 31-5 that year and advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Junior College Athletic Association championships in Kansas.
“That’s the highlight of my coaching career for sure,” Erickson said.
That team featured center Chris Boucher, the national NJCAA player-of-the-year and now property of the Toronto Raptors in the NBA.
Recently, Northwest’s athletic leadership was attached to the job descriptions of school vice-presidents, a series of fill-ins.
“I’ve prepared the whole time for this position,” Erickson said.
School started for the fall semester last week and the announcement of Erickson taking command was made to school employees last Wednesday.
A major focus of Erickson’s job besides overseeing the sports teams, is working to raise funds for athletics.
“This position will raise money for our endowment and scholarships,” Erickson said. “We’re trying to become a little more self-sufficient.
Men’s basketball officially begins practice Oct. 1, but the Trappers are allowed eight hours of preseason workouts a week for now.
A swift national search is being conducted for a men’s basketball coach. Erickson is supervising the drills until a new coach arrives.
Since it is so close to the start of the season and most college basketball coaching turnover is in the spring, the idea of Erickson coaching the 2018-19 squad was floated.
Higher administration officials turned down that suggestion.
“It’s only six months,” he said. “It’s going to be tough on the kids and me. It’s a quick transition.”
Erickson is being called upon to bring more stability to the Northwest program overall.
“It’s tough when the other coaches left,” Erickson said. “You never like change. But it’s not very many times a manager gets to hire the people who work for him.”