Capel takes over as Head Basketball Coach at NAIA Evangel U.

Photo Courtesy Evangel University

Evangel University concluded a national search for its next men’s basketball head coach by promoting EU alum and current assistant coach Bert Capel to the post Thursday afternoon.

A member of Evangel’s 2002 NAIA National Championship team during his standout playing career, Capel will become the eighth head coach in the 64-year history of the EU men’s basketball program after being selected to replace Hall of Famer Steve Jenkins, who announced his retirement on March 31 after 39 years at the helm.

Evangel has scheduled an introductory meet-and-greet gathering, open to members of the media and the general public, for Friday (April 16) at 11 a.m., in the lobby of Riggs Hall.

“I’m excited to name Bert Capel as Evangel’s next men’s basketball head coach,” Director of Athletics Dr. Dennis McDonald said. “After going through the process, it was evident that Bert is the man who will help student-athletes with their Christian walk, demand excellence in the classroom and help us win championships. Bert played a key role during the most successful time for Evangel basketball as a player and a coach, and I am eager to see continued success for Evangel men’s basketball.”

Capel brings a wealth of coaching experience from multiple levels to the Evangel staff, including a total of six seasons spanning two separate stints on Jenkins’ bench. Prior to his return to EU in 2019, Capel spent nine seasons at the NCAA Division I level on the coaching staffs at Florida State and Stetson, in addition to one year as an assistant coach at the junior college level with Jacksonville College.

“I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Wood, Dr. McCorcle and Dr. McDonald for the opportunity to lead this program,” Capel said. “For the last 39 years, they’ve had one of the best mentors and coaches in the country at the helm. As someone who has both played for and coached under Coach Jenkins, I intend to continue that tradition and uphold those same standards of excellence for Evangel basketball.”

Over the last two seasons, Capel has played a pivotal role in elevating Evangel’s on-court success, including helping EU post a 10-win turnaround in 2019-20, marking its best single-season win improvement in 14 years. Evangel also earned its first postseason berth in five years in 2020, before garnering votes in the NAIA’s Top 25 poll for the first time since 2015 this past season. 

Prior to returning to Springfield, Capel spent six seasons as a full-time Division I assistant at Stetson, where he helped lead the Hatters to improved win totals in four of his first five seasons, as well as their first Atlantic Sun Conference Championship game appearance in 2016. He also helped coordinate Stetson’s recruiting efforts, pre-and-postseason individual workouts and conditioning programs and managed the Hatters’ summer camps.

Capel made the move to Stetson after serving as an assistant coach at Jacksonville (Texas) College for the 2012-13 season. Prior to joining the Jaguars staff, Capel was a graduate assistant (2009-11) and the recruiting assistant (2011-12) at Florida State for a total of three seasons. During his time at FSU, he was a part of the school’s first ACC Tournament championship and three-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2011.

Capel began his coaching career at Evangel in 2005, joining Jenkins’ staff as an assistant. EU posted four-straight 20-win seasons, appeared regularly in the NAIA Top 25 poll and made two NAIA National Tournament trips, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2008.

As a player for EU from 2000-04, Capel helped usher in perhaps the most successful periods in program history as part of a banner career that saw the Kentucky native earn All-Heart Conference honors. In all, he scored 1,060 points and grabbed 456 rebounds to help EU claim two regular-season Heart titles. Most notably, he was a member of Evangel’s 2002 national championship team that finished 35-1 and was consistently the NAIA’s top-ranked squad throughout the season.

A graduate of Heritage Academy in Florence, Ky., Capel was inducted into the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 for his accomplishments in both basketball and baseball. He earned his Bachelor of Science from Evangel in 2005, a Master of Arts at Evangel in 2008, and a Master of Science from Florida State in 2011.

Capel and his wife, Stacy—a former Evangel volleyball student-athlete and a 2005 EU alumna—are the parents of two daughters, Myla and Kinzli, and one son, Dru.

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