University of Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart tapped into some of the Wildcats’ most revered baseball history to find a new head coach.
Nick Mingione, who spent 2006 and 2007 as an assistant on John Cohen’s coaching staff, will return to Lexington in hopes of restoring UK’s winning ways.
“This is an opportunity I’ve dreamed about for more than a decade,” Mingione said in a UK news release announcing the hiring Monday. “From the moment I first stepped foot on campus I knew it would be a place I could call home. What an incredible feeling to be back.”
Mingione, 37, has spent the past eight seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under Cohen at Mississippi State. After two seasons in rebuilding mode, the Bulldogs have played in the NCAA Tournament five of the past six seasons. They were runners-up in the College World Series in 2013 and have reached the super regionals two other times, including this year. MSU won its first Southeastern Conference regular season championship since 1989 this season.
“Nick Mingione is exactly the kind of coach we hoped to hire when we began our search,” Barnhart said in the news release. “His passion, tactical mind and tireless recruiting efforts made him an important part of Mississippi State’s staff during some great years for the program. More than that, he is a man of substance who is committed not only to developing young men as baseball players, but as students and people.”
Mingione replaces Gary Henderson. Henderson resigned June 1 after the Wildcats failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season.
During Mingione’s first stint in Lexington, the Cats went 44-17 in 2006 and won the SEC Eastern Division with a 20-10 league record, marking UK’s first conference championship. The Wildcats also hosted an NCAA regional for the first time that year. UK was 34-19-1 the following year.
Mingione brings to Lexington a reputation as a top-flight recruiter. From 2013-15, Mississippi State’s recruiting classes were ranked among the top three nationally.
“Nick Mingione has been preparing for this opportunity for the last 13 years and I absolutely know that he will make the most of it,” said Cohen, who went 175-112-1 in his five seasons coaching UK. “He is one of the nation’s elite recruiters. He is a brilliant tactician of the game. His ability to prepare kids for success in the SEC is of the highest level.”
After leaving Kentucky, Mingione spent one season as assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at Western Carolina in 2008 before rejoining Cohen in 2009 at Mississippi State, where he has been since.
Mingione, born in Tarrytown, N.Y., and raised in Cape Coral, Fla., played college baseball at Embry-Riddle. He has a degree in aerospace studies, as well as a triple minor in business, psychology and humanities.
Before Kentucky, Mingione served as an assistant at his alma mater Mariner High School, at Florida Gulf Coast University and at Embry-Riddle.