D2 Northwest Nazarene opens as Rush becomes Nighthawks AD

After six seasons leading the Northwest Nazarene University men’s basketball program to new heights, Paul Rush has been selected as the next leader of the NNU Athletic Department.

Northwest Nazarene president Joel Pearsall announced the appointment of Rush to the position of NNU Director of Athletics during a press conference in the Johnson Sports Center on Thursday morning.

Paul Rush possesses significant experience and gifting, and we are thrilled to welcome Paul into his new role as NNU Director of Athletics,” said Pearsall. “Paul has proven himself to be a successful leader throughout his coaching career, at both the high school and college level, and he has shown himself to be the embodiment of NNU’s mission and values. 

“In this role, Paul will now become the ‘coach of NNU’s coaches,’ as well as the face of NNU Athletics to the Boise Valley and beyond. I could not be more pleased to welcome Paul to this leadership role on our campus.”

Rush moves into the AD chair after eight total seasons with the men’s basketball program, including the last six years as the head coach. During those six seasons at the helm, he led the program to new heights at the NCAA Division II level. He compiled an overall record of 88-61 (.591) and 54-39 (.581) in GNAC play, finishing all six seasons with a winning percentage of .500 or above. 

Under Rush’s guidance, the Nighthawks qualified for the NCAA Tournament twice (with a Sweet 16 appearance in 2021) and have a current streak of qualifying for the GNAC Tournament four times in a row (top six teams out of 10). Rush has coached three All-Region players, the 2019 GNAC Player & Newcomer of the Year in Adonis Arms, and the 2022 GNAC Freshman of the Year in Tru Allen. In addition to those two GNAC special honors, 17 total Nighthawks have received All-GNAC recognition during Rush’s tenure.

Rush takes the reins of the athletic department from Kelli Lindley, who moved across campus in July to take the position of NNU’s Vice President for External Relations after eight years as Director of Athletics.

“What a blessing this is to be able to serve Northwest Nazarene University and the incredible students, coaches, and staff we have in our athletic department,” said Rush. “The opportunity to see the students’ lives transformed as we build on the unprecedented successes that Nighthawks Athletics has achieved under Kelli’s leadership is beyond exciting. 

“My family and I are grateful to President Pearsall, Vice President Pearson, and the entire search committee for trusting me with this role. We look forward to continuing the upward trajectory of NNU Athletics as we build Nampa’s Home Team into an NCAA Division II powerhouse.”

Prior to joining NNU as an assistant coach, Rush, an Idaho native, was a successful coach at Capital High School in Boise. He led the Eagles to third place in the 2015 Class 5A State Tournament, following up on an undefeated season in 2014 as Capital captured the 2014 Class 5A state championship.

He began his coaching career as an assistant coach for the Capital sophomore boys basketball team in 2003, working his way up to head coach and taking over the Eagles’ program in 2009. He graduated from Boise State in 2006 with a degree in Psychology. He and his wife Kylie now live in Nampa with their four young sons.

Rush will assume his new position as Director of Athletics immediately, with current associate head coach Jon Hawkins taking over as Interim Head Coach for the men’s basketball program.

“Coach Hawkins has been a vital leader and assistant with the program for the past eight seasons and will provide great continuity as the program undergoes this change,” said Rush. “We will spend some time going through a search and process of evaluation and expect to name a new head coach by the end of August.”


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