David Niven begins his first season as the Union University men’s basketball head coach, and his 13th season with the Bulldogs. He spent the 1996-97 season as an assistant coach at Oklahoma Baptist. In his first two seasons at Union, Niven served as a volunteer assistant coach, and then became full-time in 1999. In 2003, Niven earned the position of associate head coach for the Union men’s basketball program.
Niven is deeply committed to excellence both on and off the court. He aligns himself with the identity, mission and vision of Union in both his coaching and mentoring of his players. He is devoted to the development of his players physically, academically and spiritually.
“I feel a calling upon my life to fulfill the Great Commission as a college basketball coach”, says Niven. “I want to teach my players how to place their hope in eternal things and not the things of this world.”
Union president Dr. David S. Dockery says, “Dave has demonstrated over and over again his deep commitment to the identity, mission and vision of this university. His life exemplifies a ‘team above self’ mind set that will, I am sure, characterize in days ahead the attitude of his team both on and off the court.”
During his time at Union, Niven has assumed the responsibility of coordinating the recruiting efforts for the Bulldogs. He has recruited and signed numerous All-Americans, as well as, the 2002 NAIA Player of the Year. Niven has also signed eight players during his time as assistant coach that have gone on to play professional basketball in the United States and countries all over the world.
More importantly, the statistic he is most proud of is the 33 players that have graduated during his time as their academic advisor. “No coaching staff in the country will place more emphasis on the academic success of our players than we do here at Union”, says Niven. “Each player will have the commitment from our staff to prepare them for life after basketball.”
Niven, a 1996 graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, spent his playing career at OBU and finished with a four-year career record 121-24. In those four years, he played on teams that were ranked No. 1 in the NAIA, advanced to the NAIA National Championship game, and two Final Fours. He also became the first player to help lead the Bison to four consecutive national tournaments. While at OBU in 1997, as assistant coach for the Bison, Niven received his Master of Education degree from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He received valuable coaching experience as the Bison went 36-4 and made it to the 1997 NAIA National Championship Finals.
Niven and his wife Mandy Beth have been married for six years. They have three children, Jacob (3), Zack (2) and Emma (9 months).
Eric Volbert returns to his alma mater as the new assistant coach for the Union men's basketball program.
Volbert, a two-time graduate of Union, has spent the last seven years as the girls’ basketball coach at Milan (Tenn.) High School. The assistant coaching position became available when Niven, a 12-year assistant at Union, was named head coach in April.
Volbert, a native of Lima, Ohio, has two degrees from Union, including a bachelor’s degree in 1994 and a master’s degree in 1996. He spent two seasons as a member of the Union basketball team from 1991-1993. Volbert was a member of the 1992 NAIA National Tournament team, the program’s second appearance and first since 1958. In his two seasons playing for Union, he scored 351 total points, averaging eight points and two rebounds per game as a senior.
After finishing his playing career at Union, Volbert spent one season at Union as a student assistant coach before working two seasons as the graduate assistant. He then joined Trinity Christian Academy in Jackson where he coached numerous sports. After five years at TCA, Volbert moved to Little Rock (Ark.) Christian School where he coached and taught for one season before returning to west Tennessee to start coaching and teaching at Milan.
During his seven years at Milan, Volbert led his team to three district titles. He also led his squad to the 2008 State Tournament, where the team finished as the class AA state runner-up.
Volbert and his wife Theresa have been married for 11 years. They have three children, Gavin (5), Samuel (2), and Janie (8 months).