LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- After a national search, the Covenant men's basketball program has a new head coach as director of athletics Tim Sceggel has named Neal Young the 16th head coach in program history.
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Young comes to Covenant after spending the last four years as head coach at Goshen (Ind.) College. In addition to his head coaching role at Goshen, Young was an associate athletic director for compliance.
"I would like to thank Tim Sceggel, Dr. Brad Voyles, President Dr. J. Derek Halvorson and the Board of Trustees for this incredible opportunity to lead the Covenant College men's basketball program," Young said. "I think the program is in a great spot and I know that I will be standing on the shoulders of former coaches Kyle Taylor and Arte Culver who have done a great job in setting our current team up for success."
"I believe that Covenant offers a truly unique opportunity for a prospective recruit who is interested in competing at a high level athletically and receiving a top-notch education all while being pushed and supported to grow spiritually," added Young. "Covenant College is committed to the discipleship of its students at a level that I have yet to encounter anywhere else. I believe some of the great Christian leaders of the next generation are our current and future students."
"Neal's name quickly rose to the top of our search due to his proven ability as a head coach in discipleship, recruiting, and pursuing excellence on the court," Sceggel said. "His advanced experience integrating his faith into his coaching was particularly compelling. As a result, we are thrilled to have Neal lead the men's basketball program."
Young had success leading Goshen, an NAIA Division II member. His 2015-16 team recorded its second double-digit victory season in 46 years of Crossroads League basketball. Goshen went 19-13 overall and 10-8 in league play, hosting a CL tournament game for the first time since 2005, and produced an NAIA All-American in the process. This past year, the Maple Leafs toppled No. 1-ranked University of St. Francis for the program's first-ever win over a top-ranked opponent.
"A thank you is also in order to my former administration, former assistants and former players at Goshen," added Young. "It was their initial belief in me, hard work for me, and buy-in to me that allowed us to have the success we had at Goshen and helped open the door for this opportunity at Covenant."
Continued Young, "I would also like to publicly thank and acknowledge my wife of nine years, Maggie," added Young. "She has been steadfast in her support of my passion to disciple young men through basketball from the time I was coaching freshman boys basketball in empty gyms, to my years as an assistant coach making just enough to get by, to the ups and downs we experienced at Goshen in my first chance to lead a program, to this amazing opportunity to Covenant. She is simultaneously the best recruit I have ever signed as well as the best assistant I have ever had and I would not be able to do what I do without her."
The head coaching position at Goshen was Young's second stint at the institution as he also served as the associate head coach of the program for three seasons from 2008-11. Young also was an assistant coach at Lewis University from 2011-13 where he helped the Flyers to 36 wins in two seasons. He coached a pair of All-Great Lakes Valley Conference selections, while assisting Lewis to the 2012 NCAA Division II Tournament.
Prior to joining the college ranks, Young coached for a season at Anderson Highland High School.
Young earned his bachelor's degree in secondary education from Anderson (Ind.) University in 2008, where he was also a three-year member of the men's basketball program. Young gained a master's degree in organizational leadership from Lewis University in 2013.
Young will take over a Covenant program that has produced consecutive winning seasons for just the second time in team history. The Scots look to return four starters and have brought in a talented recruiting class. Three of those four starters were key contributors on Covenant's NCAA Tournament team in 2016.
"My mission in taking over at Covenant will be the same that it has always been. We will create a culture of selflessness and fearlessness that will attract passionate, competitive, like-minded players who are bought into being pushed in every aspect of who they are," Young said. "I believe this culture is one that will produce teams who win on the court but more importantly men who go on to win as followers of Christ, husbands, dads, professionals, and disciple-makers."
Covenant qualified for the USA South Tournament last season in a league that saw parity and competitiveness up and down the 11-team conference. Young is relishing the opportunity to dive into the conference and get the Scots back on top.
"I have relationships with some current and former USA South coaches so I know how competitive the league is and I know that it will be a challenge to get Covenant the top spot consistently," noted Young. "The fact that only four wins separated the No. 1 team from the No. 10 team last year speaks to just how fine the line is in this league. That being said, the challenge is exciting to me and I know our current players are excited as well. I am just ready to get on campus and begin the process of getting to know the players as well as beginning the process of recruiting the next batch of players to keep this program moving in the right direction."