Biography and Career Highlights
The 2009 campaign will mark the 30th and final season for Jim Brownlee as a head college coach, having spent the last six years at his alma mater, Illinois State, and 23 years at Evansville. During that time, Brownlee has amassed 833 victories, which ranks him in the top-40 for wins among all active NCAA Division I coaches. He has won seven conference coach of the year awards, produced more than 40 players who have gone on to play professionally and mentored 10 academic All-Americans.
Brownlee will lead Redbird baseball into a new era, by coaching ISU in its first season in a new baseball facility, which is scheduled to open during the 2009 season. In his six seasons at ISU, the Redbirds have posted a 132-185 (.416) mark.
"People have always asked me how long I'm going to coach, and I've always said that I will know when that time comes," Brownlee said when he announced his plans following last season. "Obviously, we haven't accomplished what I wanted to in the six years that I've been here, but I am really looking forward to next season with the new stadium. (By announcing my retirement, Illinois State Athletics Director Dr. Sheahon Zenger) now has time to get things in place for the 2010 season, so I think the timing is right for Illinois State Athletics and Redbird baseball."
Prior to returning to ISU, Brownlee spent 23 seasons at the helm of the Evansville baseball program. Although the Aces went 7-37-1 in his first season in 1980, the next season, Evansville won 26 games, more wins than the Aces had in their previous three seasons combined. From 1983 to 1985, Brownlee was a three-time Heartland Conference Coach of the Year and led the Aces to league titles all three seasons.
In 1988, Brownlee had one of the best seasons of his career as a head coach. He was named the Mid-East Coach of the Year by his peers and the Diamond Sports Company District Coach of the Year, after he led the Aces to a 44-20 record and an NCAA Tournament win over No. 1-ranked Arizona State. That year, Brownlee saw Evansville pitcher Andy Benes named the NCAA Player of the Year and selected No. 1 in Major League Baseball's Amateur Draft by the San Diego Padres.
Brownlee then brought Evansville to national prominence in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League). In 1991, Evansville won the MCC regular season with a mark of 40-18-1 and in 1993, he led the Aces to a 43-18 record, the second-most victories in Evansville history. Brownlee also coached Aaron Gries, the Academic All-America Player of the Year at shortstop in 1993.
In 1995, Evansville joined The Valley, and Brownlee continued to succeed, as he posted winning records in five of his eight seasons with the Aces while competing in the MVC. The 2000 season saw Brownlee lead the Aces to a 41-22 record, which earned him Valley Coach of the Year honors, while he also led his team to an NCAA Tournament appearance. In his 14 seasons in The Valley spent between Illinois State and Evansville, Brownlee has produced 15 first-team all-conference players and 22 Valley Scholar-Athlete First-Team members.
After his playing career ended and having served a stint in the military, Brownlee became an assistant baseball coach at Illinois State from 1975-76 and served as head coach for the Galesburg team in the Central Illinois Collegiate League (CICL), before he took the job at Evansville in 1980.
He is a member of the Illinois State Athletics Hall of Fame, being inducted as a member of the 1969 team, and was also inducted into the Evansville Athletics Hall of Fame in February 2005, after he earned more wins than any other coach in Evansville history.
Not only has Brownlee given back to his players in his time as a coach, but he has also been an active leader in promoting baseball, both at the collegiate level and within the communities where he has coached. Since returning to Illinois State in 2003 as head coach, Brownlee has sponsored a variety of hitting and pitching clinics for local youth; revitalized "The Dugout Club," a group of Redbird baseball friends and supporters that now numbers more than 450; and has helped to raise money for current and future renovations to Duffy Bass Field.
He has also enlisted several of his players to help assist in the NCAA Men's College World Series Youth Education through Sports (YES) Clinic, held each year in conjunction with the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Jim and his wife, Candy (a former Illinois State student), are the parents of two sons - Tim and Ryan, both of whom played for their father while at Evansville. Ryan is currently an assistant coach at Iowa, after he worked two years with his father at Evansville, followed by a four-year stint at James Madison.
6 | Jim Brownlee
Brownlee ranks in the top-40 among all active NCAA Division I coaches with 833 career victories in 29 seasons as a head coach
conference coach of the year awards
Brownlee has been named conference coach of the year in seven different seasons
35+ win seasons
Brownlee has coached six teams to 35 wins or more, including four teams that topped the 40-win plateau