Jeff Dodson-- entering his eighth season in the 2015-16 season-- officially became the first Division I baseball coach in the history of the University of North Dakota when he was hired on June 20, 2008. He took over a program that spent the previous 50 seasons playing at the Division II level in the North Central Conference.
The 2015 UND baseball season will long be remembered with several individual and team highlights. Three players signed professional contracts following the season (Tyler Follis- Colorado Rockies, Andrew Thome- Houston Astros and Jeff Campbell- Atlanta Braves) after the trio helped lead North Dakota to its first-ever Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
In just its second season in the league, North Dakota grabbed the No. 3 seed at the postseason conference tournament. UND then won its opening round game against Northern Colorado for its 24th win of the season. It was a campaign that saw a new school single-season hits leader (Tyler Follis- 76), a new career leader in hits (Follis- 240), the seventh-highest batting average in Division I in 2015 (Follis, .404), a new single-season saves record holder (Jeff Campbell- 11) and the school's first cycle in its D-1 era (Campbell).
To boot, UND also earned three league sweeps (Northern Colorado, Chicago State and New Mexico State) and also etched its first-ever win over a PAC-12 opponent (at Washington). UND took the national stage in July when slugger Jeff Campbell wowed the crowd at TD Ameritrade Park with his winning dinger display at the 2015 College Home Run Derby. Campbell hammered a derby-record 20 homers in the opening round alone en route to the win over competitors from schools such as BYU, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Texas Tech, North Carolina State and Miami.
Dodson ushered the team into a new era in 2014 as UND joined the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), the first auto-bid league in North Dakota's Division I transition. A highlight of the team's first year in the conference was a three-game sweep of Northern Colorado in a series played in Bismarck, N.D. It was the first conference sweep of an opponent for UND since moving to Division I.
The team retained bragging rights with in-state rival North Dakota State as North Dakota won a pair of close ballgames (4-3 in Fargo, 3-2 in Grand Forks). Patrick Riewer, who would become UND's first Academic All-American in the program's history since 1978, threw a complete game in the win at NDSU in his first start on the mound.
His 2013 team overcame a brutal schedule that saw it play 31 consecutive games away from home to start the season. Once the weather cooperated for UND to play a home game, it took advantage by winning 10 of its final 13 games en route to a five seed in the Great West Conference Tournament.
Once there, UND won its first two games at the postseason tournament for its third straight season. Included in the wins was a victory over three-time defending league champion Utah Valley, who had not lost a game in the tournament's history. UND then defeated top-seed Northern Colorado before dropping a semifinal to eventual-champion Houston Baptist and losing a rematch with UNC in the loser's bracket..
The 2013 campaign featured the first winning season in the Division I era and a 25-22-1 overall record. Its 25 wins were the most since 1998 and two of UND's wins found the record books for most runs scored. North Dakota scored a dozen runs in the ninth inning en route to a 23-7 win over Northern Colorado (April 14) and less than a month later, UND piled-up 25 runs in a rout of New Jersey Tech (25-5, May 10). Both of those run totals rank in the top 10 in school history for a single game.
The 2012 campaign featured a young roster with 14 freshmen that made a run in the Great West Conference Tournament, defeating its first two opponents. This group etched a 19-37 overall record, coming on at the end of the season to finish in third place at the GWC tourney.
Dodson helped his club overcome a shaky start to the 2011 season with a strong finish to the season, winning six of its last 10 games. A nice run on their home field at the Great West Conference Tournament capped that stretch . No. 7 seed UND upset No. 2 seed Northern Colorado and No. 3 seed Houston Baptist to reach the semifinals, but the magical run ended there as UND dropped two straight to conclude their season.
In his second season, his squad increased its win total by five games to 19 and posted a 13-15 mark in Great West action to place fifth in the inaugural league standings. Junior Jake Magner picked up four National Player of the Week honors during Dodson’s second season -- the first such national honors in program history. The Sioux slugger also earned first team All-Great West accolades after breaking the single-season home run record with 21.
One of the team highlights came at the Metrodome in early April when UND took three of four from rival North Dakota State. It was the first time the teams had met on the diamond since 2005.
Dodson inherited a club that had won 14 games in its final DII season and the first-year skipper matched that win total in UND’s first year as an independent at the highest level of collegiate baseball.
UND defeated such established programs as Creighton and Missouri State, plus won its first Division I series at Southern Illinois. First baseman Jake Magner earned first team All-Independent honors and three Sioux were named to the All-Independent Academic Team (CF Josh Lagein, SS Josh Nelson and C Andrew Sadler). Dodson will lead a much more experienced squad into year two of the transition, which will also be the team’s first as Great West Conference members.
Prior to his stint in Grand Forks, Dodson spent five years as an assistant coach at Southeast Missouri State, an NCAA Division I school in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
At SEMO, Dodson served as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator under head coach Mark Hogan, who is Southeast’s all-time winningest baseball coach.
Southeast Missouri State’s 2008 recruiting class was ranked 91st in the nation by Collegiate Baseball, and Dodson recruited and signed three All-Americans – Brad Smith, Nick Harris and Jim Klocke – since joining the Southeast coaching staff in 2004.
In 2008, the Redhawks finished 26-26 overall and 12-13 (sixth) in the Ohio Valley Conference and made it to the OVC tournament championship round before falling to Eastern Illinois.
Prior to his stint at Southeast Missouri, Dodson spent seven seasons as the head coach at Martin Methodist College, an NAIA school in Pulaski, Tenn. Dodson produced a 190-144 record at Martin Methodist, including four winning seasons in his last five.
While at Martin Methodist, Dodson coached four players into the professional ranks. During his tenure, seven players were named All-Americans, eight all-region, and 35 all-conference. In 2000, his pitching staff led the NAIA with a national-best 3.11 earned run average, and pitcher John Ogiltree was named TranSouth pitcher of the year and a first-team All-American. That same year, Dodson’s team broke the school record for wins, finishing with a 42-16 mark.
As the head coach at Martin Methodist, his teams broke nearly every school record and in 2003 his team qualified for the NAIA Region XI postseason tournament with a 35-20 record.
Before Martin Methodist, Dodson was head coach at Bevill State Community College for two seasons (1995-96). Dodson also served as an associate scout with the Philadelphia Phillies from 2001-2003. Three of his players from Bevill went on to play professional baseball and 12 went on to a four-year program. Thirty-eight of his former players have gone on to become coaches.
Dodson earned his associate’s degree in physical education from Bevill State in 1989, his bachelor’s degree in the same field from Livingston University in 1993, and his master’s degree from Emporia State in 2002.