In somewhat of a surprising move, Northwestern head baseball coach Spencer Allen has announced that he will step down after six years at the helm of the program. In an announcement on his Twitter page posted Monday, a day after the conclusion of the Wildcats’ 2021 season, Allen said that he is making this decision in order “to be present with my family while focusing on a healthy lifestyle.”
All I can say is Thank You....... pic.twitter.com/ogMy4PJY27— Spencer Allen (@CoachAllen_37) May 31, 2021
When Allen was hired by then-Northwestern AD Jim Phillips in June of 2015, it marked the first time that a Black coach had been charged with leading a Big Ten baseball program. Under Allen’s leadership, Northwestern’s record was a combined 104-156.
In 2017, Allen’s second year as head coach after arriving from Illinois, the team came arguably the closest it had to an NCAA Tournament appearance since its last berth in 1957 when it reached the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament and fell to Iowa. Most recently in 2021, the Wildcats got off to a hot 9-5 start before cratering in the back half of the season and finishing 15-21.
Josh Reynolds, who has served as associate head coach at NU for the entirety of Allen’s tenure, has been elevated to interim head coach. A former professional pitcher who was selected in the third round of the 2000 MLB Draft by the New York Mets, Reynolds has worked primarily with the Northwestern pitching staff since arriving in Evanston prior to the 2016 season. Reynolds has also played a key role in NU’s recruiting efforts.
“We have built a foundation for success here in Evanston that I am thrilled to carry forward,” Reynolds said in Northwestern’s statement on the transition. “I’m grateful to Bob Gundlach and our department leadership for their faith in me to lead this team. So many people have invested so much in this program during my time here, and it is an honor to have the opportunity to maintain that momentum and build an exceptional experience for our student-athletes now and in the future.”
It is unclear at this time whether or not Northwestern plans to launch a search committee for a new permanent head coach. Such plans were not mentioned in the statement, but Reynolds’ interim title suggests that a new, external leader for Northwestern may be on the way. That decision may fall into the hands of whoever is selected next to lead Northwestern’s athletic department, which itself is in a period of interim leadership under Northwestern Professor of Linguistics and Big Ten Representative Robert Gundlach after the departure of Phillips and the resignation of his successor Mike Polisky.