Mississippi Valley State Set to Name CJ Bilbrey Head Baseball Coach

The Mississippi Valley State University athletic department is set to announce CJ Bilbrey as its next head baseball coach for the coming baseball season. Bilbrey’s appointment will begin immediately. Bilbrey emerged as the leading candidate to be hired as the next head coach according to reliable sources.

Bilbrey was rumored as the candidate for Mississippi Valley State after the athletic department parted ways with head baseball coach Milton Barney after MVSU finished the season 15-36 overall and 7-22 in the SWAC conference at the end of this past 2023 season.

A former head coach at Harris-Stowe University in Missouri, Bilbrey was a four-year baseball player at HSSU obtaining a degree in Urban Education. He spent seven seasons as a college assistant coach at North Central Missouri College, Maryville University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with both pitchers and hitters.

Bilbrey has coached summer college baseball for the St. Louis Gamers  in the Lewis & Clark Baseball League registering a 47-22 record winning the league championship in 2013.

Returning to his alma mater, CJ Bilbrey joined HSSU for two seasons serving as the recruiting coordinator and hitting coach before receiving the interim head coach position in 2015.

Bilbrey was then named head coach at Harris-Stowe and won 18 games in his first season as skipper in 2016. Then the team broke through with 30 wins in both 2017 and 2018 — only the third and four time a baseball team at Harris-Stowe has won 30 or more games in the 75-year-history of the program.

Coach Bilbrey clinched his 100th win for the program in 2019 that put him second all-time on the Harris Stowe wins list in 2019.

Also impressive is that 43 of his players earned Academic All-Conference selections as well as five Scholar Athlete awards.

With all his accolades as coach, he coached in tough conferences across the country with teams making national tournaments.

Why a former head coach by way of Harris Stowe State, is being buzzed about for a head job at Mississippi Valley State is easy to trace.

Bilbrey doesn’t have any regional ties, which might eliminate him from consideration, but he does have a connection to building programs and winning.

A reliable source told Black College Nines that Bilbrey’s name has been connected to this opening for a couple of weeks – essentially since it became clear the Valley job was available.

Bilbrey will build the program. He has a major task at hand to make big headway day one and what roster casualties could be in play. His proven track record in hitting, recruiting, and pitching development, will help taking the program to the next step.

It would be a top priority to try and retain players such as infielders Dreylin Holmes and Chris Soeder along with outfielder Narvin Booker to keep some roster continuity.

And given the baseball transfer portal, Bilbrey would likely move quickly so to retain as much of the roster as possible to become competitive and begin to build toward the 2024 season setting his sights on winning the SWAC outright.

Bilbrey has a track record of serving as an ambassador for the baseball program and the schools he’s involved in. He has been vocal in his support in promoting and upgrading the baseball facilities, while also becoming involved in the community.

In CJ Bilbrey’s community involvement while at Harris Stowe State, he led the way partnering with the St. Louis Cardinals for a Revitalization Project, an important part of St. Louis, the Negro League, and baseball history, when Stars Park was renovated. The 1.3 million cost to renovate the park for the construction on the field was part of a seven-figure investment by Cardinals Care and six-figure investment by Harris-Stowe State.

Bilbrey continued with his fund-raising efforts from charitable donations from private funds for the school’s athletics department.

Coach Bilbrey and I had heavy discussions once to start and develop the site for the Black College World Series in St. Louis right after his hire. Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals and Anheuser Busch were on board after HSSU home field was renovated, but the school’s former AD at the time nixed the deal.

Bilbrey stated “I want to first thank our Director of Athletics Hakeem McClellan for this opportunity. He has been very upfront in the direction he wants his program to go. His vision for the future of this athletic department should make MVSU student/alumni/future athletics very excited.”

“On a personal note I want to acknowledge how much appreciation I have for my wife Crystal and our two children Zeb and Mary Grace. They have had to make many sacrifices their whole lives for me to get to this point on my coaching career. Also wanted to say thank you to Michael Coker for all his support through my many years of coaching. He knows how hard we work at Harris-Stowe and turned it around. He has done probably the most to help grow HBCU baseball from a media standpoint. Many coaches, programs, athletics owe him a debt of gratitude for what he sacrifices in order to promote the game.”

“For the current, former and future players of MVSU I can promise you that we will put in the work to make this program everyone is proud of. We are coming down there to build a program not just to have a team. I encourage everyone who has been apart of this program to feel like they can always come back home. For the current players I hope everyone is ready to get to work. The 2024 season may not be our most decorated season but it will one day be considered the most important because it will set the standard of how this program will be ran from this day forward.”

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