Mike Hearn is no longer the head baseball coach at Huston-Tillotson. This comes in a surprise move as the Ram baseball program has not played a single game in nearly two years since the COVID pandemic spread shut down all of the collegiate baseball season.
Obviously this has become a big story in HBCU baseball right now, the vacant coaching job after the schools administration canceled their 2021 season which prevented budget cuts and saved scholarship funding make the situation even more unique.
Reports were the baseball program had a $100,000 budget left over when the disease hit. Huston-Tillotson, caught in the budget crunch, received funding from the CARES Act along with Texas College and Wiley College.
The Act provides targeting funding to Texas institutions to help students continue their education. The Texas institutions of higher learning were awarded more than $1 billion of the $14 billion available. Reports were that Huston-Tillotson received more than $1,500,000 of the allocated funding to help the expenses of the campus to adjust the institution to operate normally.
The next head coach will have colossal resources to start the 2022 season. So the Rams should more or less have their pick of a candidate.
There has been some talk that the baseball program coaching staff was quiet about the possibility of a shake up coaching their respective team.
With Mike Hearn out as coach, it’s another opportunity for a reboot of a program, as the new head coach will have a fresh start from top to bottom as it tries to recharge its baseball program.
The word – and again, this is more the word than absolute fact – is that Huston-Tillotson is willing to invest in its new head coach if it’s needed, that the funding is there to try and make a splash. For the past several years Hearn had one of the smallest budgets of any of the HBCU baseball programs in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC).
How much Huston-Tillotson is willing to spend or has to spend will depend on the target. But it appears they are willing to swing for the fences and have the financial resources to do so.
But there is an obvious target right in its back yard: Nick Strong.
Nick Strong would be a great candidate with his knowledge of the recruiting scene in and around Texas. Coach Strong works summers with the Houston Banditos which is a Top 10 ranked summer organization. Currently he is the Pitching Coach/Recruiting Coordinator for Wiley College where he is responsible for bringing in the largest Recruiting Class in Wiley College history with over 45 incoming student athletes.
Strong has been a proven leader at previous stops such as University of Houston-Downtown where he led the Gators to their first conference title and its first ever regional appearance. There, he also developed a 1st team All American in Gino Masini and the nation’s hit leader in Luis Salazar in the same year.
The Chicago native also understands the black college baseball scene as he is a sports commentator for BCSN where he broadcast the inaugural Black College World Series in Montgomery, Alabama. He also freelance for local sports networks in the Texas Region.
While playing his college ball at Texas Southern, the Tigers won a SWAC Title in 2004, and competed in the NCAA Regional and upsetting the defending national camps in Rice University.
Strong is a tenacious recruiter. He communicates well and connects with people, a necessary trait for any top-notch recruiter. He’s built a network of relationships that he’s utilized locally in recruiting, forging relationships that will pay dividends for the Huston-Tillotson baseball program in the RRAC.