Brandon elected into NAIA Hall of Fame

Fri, 2012-07-20 11:22 -- univcomm
One Hall of Fame wasn't big enough to house Anderson University baseball coach Don Brandon, so he was elected to another. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced that Brandon would be inducted into their Hall of Fame on Jan. 4, 2002 in Orlando, Fla. "I'm honored because so many of my friends over the years have come from my NAIA experience," Brandon said. "Some of the greatest coaches I know are member of the NAIA Hall of Fame." The legendary Ravens coach has won 902 games in his 29 years at Anderson and will be back this spring to begin his 30th season on the bench. Anderson University was a member of the NAIA until 1992 and Brandon amassed 644 of his wins from 1972-92.

The NAIA induction comes less than four years after he was elected into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame on Jan. 23, 1998.

During the Ravens heyday in the NAIA (1979-92), they won 542 games in 14 years for an average of nearly 39 wins a season, including a pair of World Series appearances in 1984 and 1987. Anderson won seven Hoosier-Buckeye Conference titles and three Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference championships while a member of the NAIA. AU also went the NCCAA World Series in 1991 and 1992, finishing first and second, respectively.

"The NAIA had a different approach and we were able to manage and run a lot of things by baseball people at the grassroots level," Brandon said. "It was always clear what we had to do to succeed. We were in a district with 17-18 teams in Indiana and if you did well in the conference, you got in the district. If you won that you knew you were going to the regional."

The transition to NCAA in 1993 was a smooth one as the Ravens advanced to the NCAA Div. III World Series that year and finished fifth.

"It wasn't a surprise," Brandon said of the 1993 team's success. "I always knew that getting to the NAIA World Series was harder than getting to the Div. III World Series. We got into the ICAC and at that time there was more NAIA schools than Div. III.

"Going to Div. III had some positives and had some negatives," he continued. "The positive was we could play games in the fall and play some JV games, which bring young players around."

Overall, Brandon has won 16 regular season conference titles, six conference tournament championships and has six appearances in various World Series' - AU also went in 1998. He has been named Coach of the Year in the conference/district nine times. He has six 40-win seasons, 17 30-win seasons and 23 20-win seasons in 29 years. Overall his record stands at 902-411-4.

In the NCAA coaching ranks, he is the 5th winningest active coach and has the 20th best winning percentage among active coaches.

"Don Brandon has made an enormous difference in the lives of hundreds of outstanding student athletes over the course of his rich career," AU President James Edwards said. "His wins and losses are only a small part of the story of this sports mentor. Anderson University is so pleased that his career has been recognized by his induction in the NAIA Hall of Fame."

Just because he?s in a pair of Hall of Fame's doesn't mean Brandon is ready to retire. There are still more milestones to reach and student-athletes to teach. He needs only 98 wins for 1,000, but that's not his primary focus in coaching.

"I don't look at it that way," Brandon said of wins and losses. "I'm more concerned about fulfilling my ministry at Anderson University until my retirement years. "I'm not here to see if I can win 1,000 games. It will be nice (to win 1,000 games), but only in the context of fulfilling my ministry."

Brandon came to Anderson in the fall of 1959 from Cullman, Ala., and graduated in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in Physical Education. He earned his master's from Ball State in 1967 and his doctorate from Springfield, Mass., in 1976.

Brandon played football, baseball and basketball as a student and has coached all three sports since he returned to his alma mater in the fall of 1968.