Wittenberg University Vice President and Director of Athletics and Recreation, Dr. Gary Williams, announced the appointment of Brian Neal as the ninth Head Women’s Basketball Coach in program history on Tuesday, May 26th.
Despite spending the last nine seasons at the NCAA Div. I level, which included a six-year stint as the head coach at Xavier University, Neal is no stranger to Div. III and the Great Lakes Region as he served as the head coach at Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, from 2004 through 2011.
“Wittenberg is a special place and I’m humbled to join an institution with such rich Academic and Athletic Traditions,” stated Neal. “I would like to thank University President, Dr. Michael Frandsen, and Vice President and Director of Athletics & Recreation, Dr. Gary Williams, for their trust and support of me. I look forward to leading the Wittenberg Women’s Basketball Program and working to develop our student-athletes to their fullest potential.”
In his seven years at TMC, Neal turned the Saints into a perennial power in the Great Lakes Region, compiling an overall record of 171-31, which included five trips to the NCAA Tournament and two different appearances in the “Sweet 16” in 2009 and 2011. Once he steps back into the Div. III coaching box at Wittenberg next season, Neal’s winning percentage in Div. III games of .846 will be in the top-five among active Div. III Women’s Basketball coaches in the country.
Along with compiling the 171 wins at Thomas More, Neal also gained accolades from his peers as well, being named the Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2011, while also collecting Coach of the Year Honors in the President’s Athletic Conference in 2006, ’08, ’11 and ’11. In 2008, Neal not only collected both Region and PAC Coach of the Year Honors, but he also helped develop Jayme Thiem into the 2008 PAC Player of the Year.
“From the first day of our search process, I challenged the committee to find a leader who could do four things. The first, to build a strong sense of community with our current women’s basketball team and our department. The second, to find someone who could win the recruiting battles in our backyard and make our program and University a destination for top recruits. The third, was to honor and preserve the people, tradition and history of excellence our women’s basketball team and athletic department is known for. The final was to prepare our team and program to compete on a national level,” said Williams. “I am extremely pleased that we have found someone who not only has these skills, but also the right combination of proven success with a commitment to our University and department values. Wittenberg University, our women’s basketball team and our athletic department are all poised to be better because of Brian’s experiences, presence and vision for the future and I am excited to see the direction our program will take in the coming years.”
Following his successful tenure at Thomas More, Neal moved across the Ohio River to challenge himself at the Div. I level as the top Assistant Coach at Xavier University. After just two seasons in the second chair, Neal was named the Head Coach of the Musketeers prior to the 2013-14 season. In six seasons at XU, Neal posted an overall record of 78-108, highlighted by an 18-15 mark in the 2014-15 season that culminated with the Musketeers competing in the season-ending WBI National Tournament. The 2014-15 record of 18-15 was also the ninth-highest win improvement for an NCAA Div. I Women’s Basketball team from the 2013-14 season.
In addition to his 13 seasons as a head coach, Neal also has extensive experience as an assistant coach at four different institutions. He began his coaching career at Div. III Wilmington College from 1992-1998, before accepting a position at his Alma Mater, Northern Kentucky University, from 1998-2004. During his time at NKU, the Norse posted an overall record of 156-36, highlighted by the 1999-2000 squad winning the Div. II National Title. During his time at Wilmington and NKU, Neal learned the coaching craft under the tutelage of two legendary head coaches in Jerry Scheve at Wilmington and Nancy Winstel at Northern Kentucky.
Most recently, Neal served as an assistant coach at Div. I Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, for the 2019-20 campaign.
Neal and his wife Amy, who currently reside in Taylor Mill, Kentucky, have four children, Allison (23), Madison (22), Emma (16) and Max (13). Neal also earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism with an English Minor from NKU in 1991.D3 NCAC