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Union names Niven as head coach of men’s basketball team

David Niven has been named as the new coach for the Bulldogs. (Photo by Jonathan Blair)
David Niven has been named as the new coach for the Bulldogs. (Photo by Jonathan Blair)

JACKSON, Tenn.April 1, 2009 – David Niven, who has spent the past 12 years as an assistant coach for the Union University men’s basketball team, has been named to the Bulldogs’ head coaching position.

Niven takes over for Ralph Turner, who resigned after 15 years with the team. Niven had been named as acting head coach following Turner’s departure earlier this week.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Niven said. “The opportunity to coach at a university that shares my core values and beliefs is a great fit for me personally. On top of that, every coach desires to work for an institution that is committed to excellence. No university is more committed to that both on and off the court.”

Union President David S. Dockery praised Niven for his dedication to Union and its basketball program over the past 12 years.

“He has demonstrated over and over again his deep commitment to the identity, mission and vision of this university,” Dockery said. “His life exemplifies a ‘team above self’ mindset that will, I am sure, characterize in days ahead the attitude of his team both on and off the court.”

A native of Richardson, Texas, and a 1996 graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, Niven played four years for the Bison basketball team. He completed a master’s degree in education at East Central University in Oklahoma prior to his arrival at Union in 1997. He began his tenure with the Bulldogs as a volunteer assistant and moved into a full-time assistant coaching role in 1999.

As assistant and associate coach with Union, Niven has been responsible for recruiting, academic advising, scouting, practice planning and supervising summer camps, among other duties. He recruited Robert Joseph, the 2002 NAIA National Player of the Year, in addition to 12 NAIA All-Americans and three NAIA Academic All-Americans.

Niven coached in the NAIA national championship game in 1997 as a graduate assistant at OBU. He has served on the coaching staff for seven conference champions and averaged 26 wins per season over his career as an assistant.

Niven becomes the second of Turner’s assistant coaches to move into head coaching responsibilities at Union. Mark Campbell, coach of the Lady Bulldogs, also served under Turner prior to assuming his current role with the women’s team.

“I am excited about the appointment of David Niven as the new head coach for the men's basketball program at Union,” Campbell said. “David is one of the godliest people that I have ever met. It will be a joy to serve beside him in this capacity.”

Niven said he will continue to recruit players who excel on the court and serve others in the community, and will devote himself 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,” Niven said. “God has prepared me each step of my career for this time. I know I have been given the ability to communicate how to follow Christ and love him through the game of basketball. I want to teach my players how to place their hope in eternal things and not the things of this world.”

Niven and his wife Mandy Beth have three children – Jacob, 2; Zack, 1; and Emma, 3 months.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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