Neil Ioviero is entering his 22nd season at the helm of the Kean University baseball program. Under his guidance, the team has grown into one of the premiere programs in the nation culminating with the program's first national championship in 2007 and six World Series appearances (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 & 2013).
In 2016, Ioviero guided the Cougars to a 30-18 record, marking the 12th straight season Kean won at least 30 games. The team won the NJAC regular season title and earned a bid to the NCAA Championship, where they were among the final 16 teams standing in the nation. Ioviero was named the NJAC Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his career at the end of the season.
Ioviero, who collected his 600th career win during the course of the 2016 season, currently boasts a 660-281-2 (.701) record. He now stands with the most wins of any sport in Kean department history. Ioviero has been garnered with several honors during his recent success. In 2007 he was honored with the biggest award, the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings Division III National Coach of the Year. In addition, he has been tabbed the NCAA Division III Regional Coach of the Year (2007, 2008, 2009 & 2012), New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association (NJCBA) Coach of the Year (2007, 2008 & 2012) and has been named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Coach of the Year five times (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2016).
During the 2007 campaign, the Cougars set many milestones including then, their first-ever trip to the World Series, a regional championship and a new standard for wins in a season with 43. After receiving one of 14 national "wild-card" bids, the Cougars would go on to win eight straight post-season games, including four in regional play. In an ironic twist, Kean needed 10 innings in both the regional and World Series championship games and defeated both of their opponents by an identical score of 5-4.
In 2002, Kean University captured the school’s first ever NJAC Championship and with a 33-12 record advanced to the NCAA Tournament. That year the Cougars then set school records for most wins and best winning percentage.
In his first season, 1998, Ioviero led the Cougars to a 25-9 mark and earned an invitation to the Division III Regional Tournament, only the second time in school history then that the Cougars had made the national tournament.
In his first 21 years in the dugout, Ioviero has developed 10 All-Americans, 22 first-team regional All-Americans, 38 first-team All-State and 40 first-team All-NJAC players. In addition, of the 40 first-team All-NJAC players, 13 have garnered either Player or Pitcher of the Year honors. Moreover, 16 of those players have gone on to play professionally following the end of their Cougar careers. More recently, in a new award offered at all divisions of collegiate baseball, seven infielders have been selected with the Rawlings Gold Glove award.
A standout pitcher in college, Ioviero played for legendary coach Fred Hill at Rutgers University. As a Scarlet Knight, Ioviero pitched on two NCAA Division I tournament teams, in 1990 and 1992. As a sophomore in 1991, he posted a 7-1 mark and was named to the New Jersey Baseball all-state squad.
Ioviero has played professionally in the independent Northeast League and the Frontier League. He also participated in the prestigious amateur Cape Cod Summer League and in the Atlantic Collegiate Summer Baseball League.
Ioviero earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Rutgers in 1994, adding a postgraduate degree in physical education and health from Kean University in 1996. He received his master's degree in supervision and administration from Kean in 2002. He currently resides in Woodbridge with his wife Letizia and their children Marcello and Letizia.
Jack Nagy is entering his 21st season as an assistant for the Cougars in 2018.
A mainstay under Neil Ioviero, Nagy, who serves as the catchers coach, brings a wealth of experience to Ioviero's staff. The Woodbridge native coached the Woodbridge Recreation team to back-to-back state titles in 1995 and 1996 with records of 46-2 and 42-6, respectively. As an athlete at Woodbridge High School, Nagy played on a pair of 1958 state championship teams in football and baseball.
Named the 2008 Kean University Assistant Coach of the Year, Nagy also played for the United States Army in both football and baseball between 1962-64.
Nagy was employed with General Motors Corporation for 38 years before his retirement and now is an avid golfer in his spare time.
Gary Galvach joins the Cougars for his seventh season in 2018.
Galvach will work primarily with the first basemen after coaching at Union County College. Prior to 2011, he was the head coach of the Woodbridge Cardinals (men’s league) for 19 seasons.
He currently is a technical representative for Integrated Systems and earned his Associate of Applied Science degree in electrical engineering from Middlesex County College.
Steve Bucchignano returns to his alma mater as assistant coach for his third consecutive season in 2018. Bucchignano played for the Cougars from 1999-2003 and was previously an assistant coach for the Cougars in two separate stints during the 2000s.
As a Cougar, he threw the school’s first and then only nine-inning no-hitter and struck out a school-record 16 batters in one game vs. Bridgewater College (Va.). He was part of the team the won the program’s first NJAC Championship in 2002, helping propel the program into its current level of national success.
Bucchignano has previous coaching experience as the head coach at both Saint Joseph’s (Metuchen) High School and Bound Brook High School. With St. Joe’s from 2012-15, he went 70-44 and won the 2014 Middlesex County Tournament.
Buccignano lives with his wife, Kristen, and their two sons in Cranford.
Freel joins Kean in his first season as a coach in 2018.
Freel is no stranger to Kean after playing for the Cougars in the early 90s after transferring from the University of Connecticut. Freel captained the Cougars in his junior and senior seasons and capped off his senior year by being named Kean's Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
He most recently served as the Old Bridge High School head coach leading them to their first Central Jersey Group 4 state title (2015) while accumulating 65 wins in his four years as head coach. Old Bridge collected 20 wins in 2015 (a new program standard). Prior to OBHS he held stints as an assistant coach at St. Patrick's (Elizabeth), St. Mary's (Elizabeth), Elizabeth, and Linden.
Freel earned his Bacehlor of Arts degree in Politcal Science/Criminal Justice from Kean in 1993 and is currently a Lieutenant in the Elizabeth Police Department.
Fred Hill Sr. joins the Kean coaching staff for his second season in 2018. Hill collected 1,089 head coaching victories during a 37 year span, including 941 wins during his 30 year tenure at Rutgers University. For his efforts, he was recently inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January of 2015.
During his time with the Scarlet Knights, he led Rutgers to 11 NCAA Regional tournaments, 12 regular-season conference championships and eight conference tournament crowns. Hill has coached 72 players who went on to play professionally, including current Major League player Todd Frazier of the New York Mets and recent MLB player David DeJesus of the Los Angeles Angels of Aneheim. His record at Rutgers was 941-658-7 and included 267 victories in 19 seasons in the Big East Conference, which ranks second in league history.
Prior to his time at Rutgers, Hill spent seven years at Montclair State University, where he guided the Red Hawks to two NJAC championships, three NCAA Tournament appearances and a berth in the 1983 Division III World Series. In seven seasons at Montclair State, he compiled a record of 148-91-2. Hill also served as the Red Hawks’ football coach, posting a 52-16-4 mark with four NJAC titles in seven years.
Hill most recently spent two seasons as an assistant with Caldwell University.