KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo announces the appointment of Tom Church as its men's basketball coach.
Church previously was head men's basketball coach at Saint Joseph's College, Rensselaer.
Athletic Director Greg Cooper said Church brings the leadership style, professionalism, and coaching background to lead the program into the next phase of its growth.
"I could not be more pleased to have Tom join the Cougar family," said Cooper. "He comes from one of the best NCAA Division II conferences in the country (Great Lakes Valley Conference), which gives him an understanding of what type of talent we need to help this program succeed."
Church began work Friday, March 17, and set the goal of leading his team to the NAIA national championships. His coaching strategy including playing at a "relentless" pace, to wear opponents down on both ends of the court.
"This will create an exciting brand of basketball that will be fun for our fans to watch, but also will translate into wins," he said, adding that it will be one of the factors that makes IU Kokomo attractive to potential players.
"I think the first thing is selling the IU degree, which pretty much sells itself," he said. "We're going to sell that we're going to win."
Along with recruiting new talent, he plans to begin work immediately building a relationship with his team.
"I think the big thing is letting them know they're my guys now, building a bond, and building trust," he said. "I'm going to let them know I'm here, I'm not going anywhere, and I am all in. If they can give the same commitment to me, we're going to have a lot of success."
Church is completing his committment to his Saint Joseph's College players, assisting them in finding new schools and new teams where they can finish their collegiate basketball careers. The school's board of trustees announced in early 2017 that it would close temporarily at the end of the current school year.
He plans to move his family to Kokomo in the near future,
"Being able to get a fresh start, building a program that I can put my stamp on, is very exciting to me," he said. "I think we're going to be able to get a lot of fans and support for the program.
Church, who is from Conneaut, Ohio, played at NCAA Division II Ashland University in Ohio. He had been an assistant coach at Hiram College in Ohio, Saint Joseph's College, and Florida Southern College before earning the head coaching job at Saint Joseph's College.
Cooper noted that Church's teams improved athletically, and posted record grade point averages each year he was head coach, and that he is committed to student athlete success.
"Tom brings an energy and passion to connect with the IU Kokomo and Kokomo community that will be the backbone of support for these student athletes," he said.