Midland University Named Oliver Drake Head Coach

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Midland University has announced Oliver Drake as the institution’s next men’s basketball head coach. Drake arrives having guided Ashford University to the NAIA DII National Championship Tournament in three of his five seasons as head coach, including an appearance in the Round of 16 in this year’s tournament.

“From the beginning of our search we committed to finding a championship caliber coach, and moving quickly to secure a leader for our student athletes,” said Midland President Jody Horner. “Oliver is a proven winner on and off the court. At Midland we expect to contend for championships and Oliver is the right person to have us competing at the highest levels.”

Drake, the 2013-14 Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Coach the Year, posted a 108-55 overall record in his five seasons at the helm at Ashford University. The Saints made just their second-ever National Tournament appearance under Oliver in 2011 after winning the MCC postseason tournament championship. After making the National Tournament in 2014, Ashford returned the following season and advanced to the Round of 16.

Ashford was ranked in the NAIA Top 25 at least once in each of Drake’s five seasons, and spent every week ranked during the 2013-14 campaign. Under Drake’s leadership, Ashford set school records for regular season wins, overall wins, conference wins and regular season win streak. His five seasons at Ashford stand as the five most successful campaigns in in the institution’s history.

“I’m absolutely elated to be the next head coach at Midland University and take over a perennial Top 10 team in the NAIA,” Oliver said. “The administrative staff at Midland ran a quality search process, and I’m honored to be their selection. I can’t wait to hit the ground running this week and begin chasing greatness in everything we do.”

At Midland, Drake will lead a program that has been ranked in the NAIA DII Top 25 Coaches’ Poll in each of the weekly releases over the last two seasons. Since the January 7, 2014 poll, the Warriors have been ranked in the Top 10 in all but five of the polls, and haven’t fallen below a No. 15 ranking in that span. Midland ranked as high as No. 2 in the country for three weeks.

The Warrior men’s basketball team has reached the NAIA DII National Championship Tournament for a school-record three consecutive seasons from 2013 to 2015, including playing for the national title in 2014 before finishing as the national runner-up. The Warriors set a new school record for wins (30) during their 2013-14 campaign. Last year, Midland claimed the GPAC postseason championship for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

“We view this position as one of the premier opportunities in all of the NAIA, and to emerge from the pool of quality candidates it was going to take an exceptional individual,” said Midland Athletic Director Dave Gillespie. “Oliver Drake is a special person whom we are confident can build on the success our program has achieved, and take us to the next level.”

Midland’s championship pedigree has been built upon success on the defensive end of the court, which was also a staple of Drake’s teams at Ashford. For five straight years, the Saints ranked in the Top 15 of the NAIA in points allowed per game. Ashford ranked fourth in the nation in that category in each of Drake’s final three seasons.

The rise of the Midland men’s basketball program has paralleled the growth of Midland University in recent years as the institution has seen enrollment more than double and expanded to 27 varsity athletic programs. As Nebraska’s largest athletic department, the institution is now home to more than 800 student athletes and is committed to expanding opportunities for athletes.

In addition to success on the court, Drake’s tenure at Ashford was noteworthy for academic gains among student-athletes as his teams claimed three NAIA Scholar Team Awards and two NABC Team Academic Excellence Awards. As a coach who saw 100% of his program’s seniors graduate, Drake’s approach matches Midland University’s commitment to ensuring students are supported and guided toward on-time graduation. Since the launch of the university’s unique Four-Year Graduation Guarantee the institution has begun pioneering new advising and support models to keep students on track toward graduation while pursuing their passions.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a Master’s degree in Education from Viterbo University, Drake will begin meeting with current Midland players on Monday. The Warriors open their season on November 3rd at the University of Jamestown.


Photo Courtesy Midland Athletics


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