Spring Hill College Director of Athletics Jim Hall announced today that Aaron Niven has been named the school's head coach of men's basketball.
Niven spent the last six seasons as the assistant basketball coach at John Brown University (JBU) in Siloam Springs, Ark., and helped build the JBU men's program into one of the top programs in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC). During his time at JBU, Niven was instrumental in signing six SAC All-Conference selections, two SAC Freshman of the Year winners, a 2nd team NAIA All-America selection, three NAIA honorable mention All-America winners and a Capital One Academic All-America Award recipient.
"I am pleased that Aaron has accepted the offer to lead our men's basketball program," said Hall. "He's a veteran assistant coach and everyone that I spoke with said he's definitely ready to assume the reigns of his own program. I believe that Aaron's passion and enthusiasm will be contagious among our players, alumni and fans. I know that no one is going to outwork our coaching staff under his leadership."
During the 2012-2013 season, Niven (left) helped John Brown achieve its highest ranking (No. 3) in program history and notched a program-record 28 victories as the Golden Eagles captured their first-ever SAC regular season championship. The 2013 JBU senior class compiled a 100-35 (.741) career record – the highest four-year win total in program history. Under Golden Eagles head coach Clark Sheehy, Niven built a 133-66 (.668) cumulative record.
"I would like to thank Father Richard Salmi and Jim Hall for this amazing honor," said Niven. "To be the head basketball coach at such a prestigious institution as Spring Hill College is what I have worked for my entire professional career. I am thrilled for the opportunity and look forward to building a program in which the entire Spring Hill College family can be proud."
Hall also points to Niven's proven track record in building quality programs. "Aaron has been a part of a highly successful program at John Brown under Coach Sheehy. They have developed a formula for achieving a high level of competitive success at an academically rigorous, private liberal arts college," said Hall. "I believe that blueprint will allow our men's basketball program to once again achieve the standard of academic and competitive excellence that we've been known for historically."
Excited to begin rebuilding Badger Basketball, Niven sees a bright future ahead. "We already have a good nucleus of players that we can build a quality team around and they are the real keys to a successful program," he said. "You first must have quality student-athletes to work with and we already have a head start with that part of the plan."
Prior to his time at John Brown, Niven served the men's assistant basketball coach at Southern Arkansas University (SAU) in Magnolia, Ark., from 2000-2007 where he signed All-Gulf South Conference (GSC) performers Kenny Langhorne and Brandon Williams.
Before SAU, Niven spent two years (1998-2000) working as men's assistant coach at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS) under former head men's basketball coach of the University of Nebraska Doc Sadler. While at the UAFS, Niven helped recruit seven players that went on to receive NCAA Division I scholarships. He also helped lead the Lions to a Bi-State Conference championship in 1999-2000.
"Aaron's experience in NCAA Division II and the Gulf South Conference will be invaluable to us as we potentially make the transition to NCAA Division II," said Hall. "He already knows the NCAA Division II landscape in the Southeast and is familiar with NCAA compliance processes and procedures."
The Rogers, Ark., native is ready to tackle the tests that face the Badgers. "I look forward to the potential of moving to the NCAA," Niven said. "The SIAC is a great conference and will present challenges, but our system and the way that we will prepare will give us the opportunity to be successful."
Niven played two seasons at Arkansas Tech where he was part of an NAIA Final Four team during the 1994-1995 season. He then transferred to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1998 before completing his Masters of Education in 2000. He is a third generation head coach, following in the footsteps of his father Bill Niven, head coach of girls' basketball at Decatur High School (Ark.).
Niven and his wife, Shannon, have a daughter, Madalyn, and two sons, Will and Boston.
Niven will arrive on the Spring Hill campus later this week to begin his duties.