FARGO — It was a whirlwind few weeks for North Dakota State head baseball coach Tod Brown, who guided his team to a Summit League tournament title and the first NCAA Tournament win in school history. The latter came on the same weekend his daughter graduated from Fargo Davies High School.
The fast track of life hasn't stopped. Brown was named the head coach at the University of New Mexico on Thursday, ending 14 years with the Bison, where he became the second winningest coach in school history. Associate head coach Tyler Oakes was named the interim head coach.
In essence, Brown is heading back near home. He played collegiately at the University of Arizona and his parents live in the Tucson area. He spent eight seasons as an assistant at Bowling Green (Ohio) before coming to NDSU. He said he had multiple people telling him to not take the Bison job because it would be too tough to put together a winning program.
"You will ruin your career if you take that job," said Brown, quoting what somebody told him. "It's been completely opposite. It took us a couple of years, now, but by the time the first recruiting class was seniors, we won 40 games. And it's been pretty good since. I came here to learn how to do the job and put together a program all within hopes of maybe, maybe, one day I'd get back to the southwest and this opportunity came open."
The timing couldn't have been better. His sons Brooks and Blake are in college. The mother and sister of his wife, Janet, also live in Tucson and Janet's father lives in California. Brown said he's had other opportunities in recent years to move on but nothing "was so obvious that I had to take it."
"Family first, man," he said. "Let my kids get through elementary, junior high and high school and all in the same system. Now that they're out, it gave us more flexibility."
The opportunity came with the Bison on their late-season run to the NCAA tourney. Brown said he appreciates the New Mexico administration keeping quiet the possibility of him being the head coach until NDSU's season was over. The job checked all his boxes, he said. The program has a history of winning in the Mountain West Conference and has good facilities.
Brown was 341-350 with three of the top-five single-season win totals in Bison history. He oversaw the only two 40-plus win seasons, including this year's 42-19 record. More impressive, NDSU was 96-48 at home at Newman Outdoor Field under Brown, a testament to having to hit the road for the first two months of the season. He ranks third in Summit history in total wins and second in league wins with 170.
During the 2021 season, the Bison broke multiple school records and won the first NCAA Regional game during the NCAA Division I era. NDSU played a school record 61 games, while recording a record 27 saves and 474 strikeouts on the mound. Eight Bison were named to the All-Summit League Teams, while senior Bennett Hostetler was named the Player of the Year. Hostetler and closer Parker Harm were each named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-Central Region Team, becoming the first pair of players to earn the honor in the same season during the NCAA Division I era for NDSU.
Brown told his team in an 11 a.m. meeting on Thursday.
"It was tough, really tough," he said. "I love those guys."