Columbia University has hired 2015 Metropolitan and Mid-Major Coach of the Year Jim Engles to be the 23rd head coach in the 116-year history of its men’s basketball program, Director of Athletics and Intercollegiate Athletics Peter Pilling announced.
“Today is an exciting day for Columbia Athletics and our men’s basketball program,” said Pilling. “Jim Engles is a tremendous basketball coach and an exceptional person. We know he is the perfect fit to keep our program going in the right direction and will help us compete for Ivy League championships. We are thrilled to welcome Jim, his wife Meegan and daughters Kelcie and Ryenn back to the Columbia family.”
Engles returns to Columbia after spending the past eight years as head coach for the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Over the past six seasons at NJIT, Engles compiled a 100-88 record, including back-to-back 20-win seasons the past two years. Prior to leading the Highlanders, Engles served as an assistant coach at Columbia under former head coach Joe Jones from 2003 to 2008.
“I am humbled and beyond excited to become the next head basketball coach at Columbia,” said Engles. “My first experience here was tremendous. I look forward to reconnecting with some of my former colleagues that are still here and I cannot wait to get to work with this special group of student-athletes.”
“I am thankful that President Lee C. Bollinger, Athletics Director Peter Pilling and Senior Associate Athletics Director Joe Quinlan have provided me and my family this tremendous opportunity,” Engles added.
NJIT had competed at the Division I level for only two seasons when Engles arrived in 2008, and in three years he turned them into a 15-win program. In 2014-15, he directed the Highlanders to a 21-12 record, including an upset at No. 16 Michigan and a postseason berth, advancing to the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT).
At the conclusion of the 2014-15 season, Engles was named John McLendon National Coach of the Year honors from CollegeInsider.com, received the Peter A. Carlesimo Division I co-Coach of the Year from the Metropolitan Writers Association and was a finalist for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year and Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year awards.
In 2015-16, Engles once again led the Highlanders to the semifinals of the CIT, where they faced the eventual champions, Columbia, at Levien Gym last week. His team also finished tied for second place in the America Sun Conference in its first year in the league.
In addition to the tremendous success over the past two years, Engles won a Great West regular season championship and was selected the Great West Conference Coach of the Year in 2012-13.
The success of Engles’ Highlanders squads culminated with NJIT committing to build a new $100 million Wellness and Events Center and receiving an invitation to join the Atlantic Sun Conference after spending two years without any conference affiliation.
In his first stint with the Lions, Engles helped Joe Jones turn around the Columbia program from a last-place finish in The Ivy League, into a consistent competitor in non-conference and league play, including the first .500 finish in league play since 1992-93.
Prior to joining Columbia as an assistant in 2003, Engles spent the previous six seasons at Rider University, where he was the top assistant coach for the Broncs under Don Harnum, as well as their recruiting coordinator. Rider’s basketball program enjoyed great success with Engles on staff, including winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season title during the 2001-02 season and making the school’s first appearance in the postseason NIT in 1998.
Before joining Rider, Engles spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Wagner College. He assisted Tim Capstraw in guiding the Seahawks to the best winning-percentage turnaround in Division I basketball, going from four wins in 1991-92 to 16 in 1992-93. Wagner also recorded the most Division I wins in school history during that time, and competed against Rider for the Northeast Conference Championship in 1993 on national television.
A Staten Island native, from St. Peter’s High School, Engles played college basketball for Dickinson College, where he was a three-year letterwinner. He helped lead the Red Devils to the second-most single-season victories in school history at the time during the 1989-90 season. After graduating from Dickinson in 1990 with a B.A. in political science, he earned his M.B.A. from Wagner College in 1997.
His grandfather, Ken Engles, was a player and coach at Georgetown University, while his uncle, John Engles, was a high school All-American who went on to play at Penn under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Chuck Daly.