HBU’s Ron Cottrell is the sixth-longest tenured coach among active NCAA Division I head men’s basketball coaches, entering his 28th season leading the Huskies with a record of 481-382. He led the Huskies back to the NCAA Division I ranks after 16 seasons building a perennial power at the NAIA Division I level, and now leads them into season six in the Southland Conference. In addition to his coaching duties, Cottrell has assumed the role of associate director of athletics, after spending 15 years as director of athletics at HBU. He was one of the driving forces, working closely with HBU President Robert B. Sloan, in the Huskies’ transition to the NCAA.
In the 2016-17 season, Cottrell led the Huskies to their best season yet at the Division I level, finishing 17-14 overall and tying for second in the Southland at 12-6. HBU closed out the regular season with a nine-game winning streak, en route to the No. 4 seed in the SLC tournament and earned its second-consecutive postseason berth, playing in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. HBU placed three playerson the SLC All-Conference team with Colter Lasher, Josh Ibarra and Reveal Chukwujekwu all earning second team honors. Additionally, Chukwujekwu and Lasher were both named Academic All-SLC, making HBU the only school with multiple All-Academic selections. The Huskies also placed four players (Lasher, Chukwujekwu, Braxton Bonds and Will Gates Jr.) on the NABC Honors Court, with just three additional players receiving that recognition from the other 12 schools in the conference.
In 2015-16, HBU went 17-17 overall, earning the fourth seed in the SLC Tournament with a 10-8 league mark. The Huskies also made the program’s first NCAA postseason appearance since 1984, competing in the College Basketball Invitational. Senior guard Anthony Odunsi was a first-team all-conference selection, while sophomore center Josh Ibarra earned honorable mention. The Huskies went on a 10-game winning streak from Dec. 29 to Jan. 30, winning their first eight league contests. HBU then recorded its first conference tournament victory with a 73-68 win over Southeastern Louisiana in the quarterfinals.
In the 2014-15 season, Cottrell led the Huskies to a 12-16 overall record and 7-11 mark in Southland play, doubling the team’s overall win total from 2013-14 and winning five more league games. At the conclusion of the season, Odunsi was named SLC honorable mention, the program’s first player honor since joining the league, while Ibarra ranked 49th in the nation with 2.04 blocks per game, fifth among all freshmen. Ibarra also finished tied for 18th among freshmen and ninth in the Southland with 6.5 rebounds per game.
Cottrell guided the Huskies to a 14-17 record in 2012-13 and an appearance in the Great West Conference championship game to close out HBU’s affiliation with the league. After starting the season 4-13 with his young roster, Cottrell’s squad won 10 of its last 13 games, including an eight-game winning streak from Jan. 22-Feb. 25. Senior forward Art Bernardi earned first-team all-conference honors, senior guard Anthony Hill was named conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year and freshman guard Rob Lewis was voted the league’s Sixth Man of the Year. Lewis, sophomore guard Marcel Smith and freshman guard Caleb Crayton also earned all-conference honorable mention.
The Huskies entered a new era during the 2009-10 season, as they began their first season of Great West Conference play. HBU went 9-3 in the league, finishing second during the regular season and advancing to the championship game of the conference tournament. Four players earned all-conference recognition, including first team selections Gonzalez and Mario Flaherty. Gonzalez was the league’s leading scorer and was named Newcomer of the Year.
Gonzalez once again led the Great West in scoring during the 2010- 11 season to earn first-team all-conference honors. He averaged 22.9 points per game, the sixth-highest scoring average in the nation and second-highest in HBU history. Michael Moss was named Great West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was an all-conference honorable mention pick after leading the lead with 2.8 steals per game, which was also the sixth-highest average nationally.
During the 2011-12 season, Cottrell solidified his place as HBU’s all-time winningest basketball coach as HBU defeated Campbell, 87-76, on Dec. 14, 2011, for the head coach’s 400th career victory. Freshman guard Tyler Russell was named to the Great West All-Newcomer Team and was joined in all-conference honorable mention accolades by seniors Terry Bembry and Joe Latas.
During the NAIA years, the Huskies won nine consecutive Red River Athletic Conference championships and competed in the NAIA national tournament 10 straight years. He built the basketball program into one of national prominence, perennially ranked in the NAIA Top 25, and finishing the season as one of the NAIA’s top 10 teams six times.
In 2002-03, Cottrell led the Huskies to a 31-3 record and ended the season as the NAIA’s top-ranked team, a ranking the Huskies held onto for the final five weeks of the season. After that history-making season, Cottrell was chosen as the Basketball Times NAIA National Coach of the Year. That season also boasted the Huskies as the national scoring and rebounding leader, scoring 100.4 points per game and bettering their opponents by a margin of 13 rebounds per game. It was the second straight year the Huskies led the NAIA in rebounding and the third time in the previous eight seasons that HBU led the nation in scoring.
HBU again led the nation in rebounding two years later, out-rebounding their opponents by 10.2 boards per game in 2004-05. In that season, Cottrell reached another milestone in his successful career, posting his 300th career win.
Cottrell is known for his up-tempo offense and pressure defense, a philosophy he learned from his mentor, former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson. As an assistant to Richardson at Arkansas, Cottrell helped coach the Razorbacks to two Southwest Conference championships and three trips to the NCAA tournament, culminating in the Hogs appearance at the 1990 NCAA Final Four where they lost to Duke in the semifinals. During Cottrell’s tenure on the bench at Arkansas, the Razorbacks posted a record of 88-36.
Prior to joining Richardson’s staff as an assistant coach, Cottrell spent a year as an assistant at North Dakota State College of Science before returning to Arkansas, his alma mater.
Cottrell knows the Houston area, having graduated from Houston’s Westbury High School. He returned to his native Arkansas to attain a degree in industrial engineering. While attending the University of Arkansas, Cottrell served as sports director for Fayetteville, Ark., ABC affiliate KTVP-TV before entering the coaching profession.
When Cottrell was hired to lead the HBU program in the fall of 1990, Cottrell spent the second year of the Huskies’ self-imposed basketball hiatus putting the program together, recruiting and scheduling before beginning play in the 1991-92 season.
The first season, the Huskies posted a 7-23 record. It was a season of growing pains for Cottrell and his young team. He had formed his base with freshmen, and although they took their lumps, it paid off in the long run. By the time those freshmen were seniors, they had made the playoffs three straight years and fell just three points shy of making it to the NAIA national tournament. After seven-and-a-half years as the HBU coach, Cottrell broke the school’s coaching record for wins during the 1998-99 season, a record previously held by Gene Iba after an eight-year tenure. The 1997-98 Huskies had a school record 22-game winning streak and a school-best 26-6 record, only to be exceeded by the 1999-2000 team with a 28-6 record. In 2000-01, the Huskies again rewrote the record books with a 31-5 record.
HBU tied the school record for wins and set a new low for losses with the 2002-03 team’s 31-3 mark and broke the record for consecutive wins with 25. In 2003-04, the Huskies saw a 60-game home winning streak come to an end, ending the nation’s longest active home winning streak for a men’s team. That team went on to finish the year with a 27-6 record.
The Huskies had at least one basketball player receive All-America honors each season during a span of 13 seasons and Cottrell has coached athletes to All-America accolades 20 times, including the 2002-03 Basketball Times NAIA National Player of the Year, Rod Nealy. In addition, the Huskies have had recipients of All-Conference honors 42 times under Cottrell.
In conjunction with the Huskies’ on-court success, Cottrell stresses excellence in the classroom as well. For his tenure, he holds an 85 percent graduation rate, as six players have received Academic All-America honors and 55 have garnered Academic All-Conference accolades. Cottrell was named Red River Athletic Conference Coach of the Year five times. He also has twice been awarded the Houston Area High School Boys Basketball Coaches’ College Coach of the Year and he received what he regards as one of his highest honors in the summer of 2006 when he was selected by USA Basketball to serve as a court coach for the gold-medal winning 18U USA team.
With Cottrell at the helm as Athletics Director, the Huskies won 42 conference championships and had teams compete in national tournaments 35 times. HBU won eight Red River Athletic Conference all-sports awards in the nine-year history of the RRAC. HBU produced 99 All-America honorees, 65 academic All-America athletes and 241 All-Conference performers during his tenure.
He was honored for his leadership as the 2001 recipient of the NAIA Region VI athletic director of the year award. He is a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association.
Cottrell was one of six members of the 2012 HBU Sports Hall of Honor class, recognizing his many contributions to the University as both a coach and administrator.
He is married to the former Jacque George, who served as director of media relations at HBU and also worked in the media relations office at the Great West Conference, Southwest Conference and the sports information office at the University of Arkansas. They have two daughters, Scottlyn Rose and Sydney-Anne, who is a senior on the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women’s basketball team. He also serves as a deacon at Sugar Land Baptist Church.