Judson looking for new AD, baseball coach after Rich Benjamin’s departure – Chicago Tribune
Judson University lost both its new athletic director and baseball coach when Rich Benjamin accepted the head baseball coaching job at Indiana Wesleyan University.
“Saying goodbye to Coach Benjamin is a huge loss for Judson University,” Judson vice president Nancy Binger said. “The work that he has done over the last eight years has been extremely valuable to Judson and he leaves quite a legacy that will forever be remembered. We greatly appreciate the commitment and effort he gave the baseball program and the university and wish him nothing but success in his next chapter of life.”
Benjamin is replacing Chad Newhard, who had coached seven years at the central Indiana school. Indiana Wesleyan was 24-30 last season.
Like Judson, Indiana Wesleyan is an NAIA Division II school.
Benjamin did not return calls about the change.
Benjamin built the Judson baseball program into an area power, winning Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season titles in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The Eagles won CCAC tourney titles in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015, and made NAIA regional appearances five times. The Eagles also played in two NCCAA World Series. He was named CCAC Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013.
Benjamin, who won 304 games in his eight seasons, accepted the dual role of coach and athletic director in April after basketball coach Joel Cotton gave up AD duties to concentrate on basketball.
An assistant at Olivet Nazarene prior to coming to Judson, Benjamin was a baseball player for two years at Milligan College and two years at Martin Methodist.
Players were saddened and stunned when they heard about the resignation at a team meeting.
“It was a shocker, not something that we were seeing at all,” said Judson pitcher Miguel Villafane, who played for Larkin. “We were definitely not happy to see him go, but we want him to go where he wanted to go. His wife’s family is from Tennessee and the drive would be a lot closer.
“I was there only a year and from my experience, he was a great coach who did all he could. He definitely left a good impression with me.”
Former Larkin player Brayden Royse was with Judson last season and plans to play both basketball and baseball at the school next year.
“We were baffled by it,” Royse said of Benjamin’s departure. “He had a lot of passion for Judson and loved being there.
“He had a lot of players to keep track of, and it was a difficult job.”
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