University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Business Administration (CBA) alumni Evan Porter, head coach of the UNO baseball program, led a team that included several current CBA students to the Mavericks’ first NCAA Division I Baseball Regional appearance in 2019.
Although the team didn’t advance, the Mavericks won the Summit League regular season and tournament championships, and finished the season 31-24-1 – more than double the wins of the 2018 season. The team logged the nation’s best fielding percentage at .984.
Porter was named Summit League Coach of the Year and saw eight of his players earn All-Summit honors. The team also saw Payton Kinney, who will serve as the team’s pitching coach for the 2020 season, earn Summit League Pitcher of the Year, tournament MVP and Rawlings/ABCA All-America Third Team honors.
It was truly a remarkable effort, especially considering it was Porter’s third season as head coach. "Fulfilling would be a good word to describe it," Porter said, "for me and for the guys in the current program as well."
As a Mavericks player, Porter was a four-year starter at shortstop from 2005-09 and a two-time All-American. He set numerous records and was a member of the UNO team that earned a berth to the 2007 NCAA Division II College World Series. While Porter was a player, UNO made four straight NCAA regional appearances and won the 2008 North Central Conference championship.
He said the 2019 season brought the team "back to where we want to be competing; back to the foundation set by the coaches I played for."
Porter said he draws upon experiences he gained while in college at UNO, both on the field and in the classroom. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business marketing in 2009 and a master’s of business administration in 2016.
"Culture is everything in business, and culture is also a competitive advantage," he said. "When I started as head coach, I set about establishing a culture that would be good for the team and our goals. Some guys didn’t fit that culture, so I have tried to recruit guys who did. Our duty as coaches is to bring aboard the right people to succeed."
Porter reminds his players every day about the vital role culture plays in success. "I tell them how important it is to be a good person, to be good to themselves and to be good to their teammates," he said.
He considers CBA to be one of the best business schools in the Midwest. "Every year on average we have eight to 10 guys on the team who are CBA students," Porter said. "Whenever we find a recruit interested in business, it’s great bringing them back to a world class facility with world class instructors and programs. It’s an easy sell."
He said the entire UNO campus has evolved into an impressive place. "There are so many wonderful things here to show potential students," he said.
The addition of a new, 1,500-seat baseball stadium to the west of Baxter Arena will give the Mavericks another recruiting tool, and a consistent home stadium that is owned and operated by the university. Porter said its completion is anticipated in time for UNO to host the Summit League tournament in 2020.
"We are willing to put in the work necessary to make certain things keep getting better,” he said, “for the team, the college and the university."