Head coach Ryan Cottingham begins his 19th season as the head coach of the Spring Arbor University men’s basketball program. Cottingham started his coaching career as an assistant at Alma College (Mich.) in 1995 and served in that capacity for three seasons before taking the same position at Spring Arbor in 1998. In 1999, Cottingham accepted the invitation to become the eighth head coach in school history.
Cottingham also serves as the Director of Athletics, a position that became official during the summer of 2013 following a year as the interim AD. Prior to his new appointment, Cottingham was the Assistant Athletic Director for six years.
From 2007-10, Cottingham served as the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national basketball chair. He was the national vice chair from 2005-07.
Cottingham received his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from SAU in 1994. He went on to earn his master’s degree in athletic administration from Central Michigan University in 2000.
As a collegiate athlete, Cottingham played for SAU from 1992-94, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College from 1990-92. A native of Three Rivers, Michigan, Cottingham participated in football, basketball and track. He was inducted into the Three Rivers High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.
Cottingham and his wife, Christy, have three children, Connor, Ryleigh and Trey, and reside in Spring Arbor, Michigan.
“I am extremely humbled and grateful for the privilege I’ve been afforded to coach at my alma mater. Spring Arbor University is a special place and I want to glorify God to the best of my abilities,” noted Cottingham.
Brandon Baum begins his ninth year with the Spring Arbor University men's basketball program and second year as the associate head coach. Baum first coached at SAU from 2006-09. He left to take the head coaching position at his high school alma mater, Springport, where he served in that capacity from 2009-12. Baum returned to Spring Arbor for the 2012-13 season.
Baum’s coaching career began in the prep ranks where he’s spent a total of 10 years in addition to his collegiate experience. Coach Baum worked his way up from the middle school level to the top varsity position where he has guided both boy’s and girl’s teams.
Baum attended Spring Arbor University from 1998-2003 where he was a cross country and track athlete. A 1998 Springport High School graduate, Baum was an all-conference performer who excelled in basketball, cross country, and track.
Baum and his wife, Jamie, reside in Parma with their two sons, Logan and Brody, and daughter, Aubree. He currently works in Admissions and Corporate Relations at the Spring Arbor University Jackson site.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Brandon and his family be a part of the Cougar basketball program," noted head coach Ryan Cottingham. “Brandon is an excellent communicator and an outstanding recruiter. “He’s an exceptional coach and an even better person.”
Coach Baum had this to say about SAU basketball: “It is an honor and privilege to be part of the Spring Arbor University basketball program. The family atmosphere Coach Cottingham creates is very special and unlike any other. I feel fortunate to work with such quality student-athletes and coaches and I truly believe the future is bright. I look forward to continuing to grow as a coach and more importantly as a person."
Coach Brown led the Cougars of Lenawee Christian in Adrian, Michigan for 23 seasons compiling a record of 383 wins and 151 losses. Under Brown’s leadership the Cougars won 15 MHSAA District Championships (13 consecutive), six Regional titles and had three final four appearances. He was named AP Michigan Class D Coach of the Year on three occasions, ‘97- ‘98, ‘00- ‘01 and the ’04-’05 seasons. Brown has served at Lenawee Christian for the past 32 years in various roles and he currently is the Director of Alumni Relations.
Jim coached nine AP First Team All-State players including former SAU standout Mike Folkert. A number of his former players have become coaches themselves.
Jim and his wife Janet are both Taylor University graduates and currently live in Adrian but will soon be relocating the Spring Arbor. They have four children: Kristin (Brad) Riley, Kate (Mark) Hanna, Ben (Erica) Brown and Betsy (Colton) Martinez, and six grandchildren. Betsy serves as Head Volleyball Coach at Spring Arbor University.
Josh Tropea begins second season as an assistant coach on the Spring Arbor University men’s basketball staff in 2017-18.
Tropea brings a relentless work ethic and a great basketball mind to the Cougars. He is well respected throughout the state and is already making his presence felt on the recruiting circuit.
He currently works as a middle school special education teacher at Chelsea High School, where he had also served as the head boy's basketball coach. Prior to his two years at Chelsea, Tropea spent five seasons as the head coach at Milan High School where he led the Big Reds to the 2014 Class B State Championship. During his stint in Milan, Coach Tropea compiled a 92-27 record. Known for his attention to detail and player development, Tropea has had a number of his prep standouts go on to play collegiately at all levels.
"We are adding one of the top coaches in the state to our staff. He is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the game, and he is committed to impacting lives," commented SAU head coach Ryan Cottingham. "Josh is a 'basketball junkie' with contagious energy and a drive to excel. He makes an outstanding staff even better, and I am blessed to be surrounded by such an incredible group of individuals!"
Josh and his wife, Alicia, reside in Chelsea with their two sons, Luke and Zack.