Brent Baier, now a former assistant coach for the football team, is stepping away from the game he loves to be a part of the admissions office on campus at La Verne.
Working in the undergraduate admissions office was a wonderful way for Baier to reach the masses on campus and change more lives. But it certainly was not an easy decision for him to make.
“When I heard that one of the other admissions counselors had moved on, I had inquired about the position,” Baier said. “I’m thrilled and excited to be a part of the admissions staff here. Over the past four years while doing recruiting for the football program, I got to foster and cultivate a lot of great relationships with the folks in the admissions department,” he said.
Baier believes that his new position will allow him to help be a bridge and a liaison between the various departments on campus.
“Being a part of the communication among all the departments is something that I really feel as if I can provide now in the position that I am in,” Baier said.
“I have now got the chance to leave a mark at La Verne and help the University from a much larger standpoint and I think that it is going to be a lot of fun,” he said.
The decision did not come easy for Baier however, being that football is a sport that he has been involved with for the better part of his life and coached for the last 11 years.
“I had an incredible time mentoring and being a part of the young men’s life within our football team, but to be involved with the University on a larger level was an opportunity that I could not pass up,” Baier said. “But right now in my life with raising a young child, it’s important for me to find that balance, where I can make my way home more often to be alongside my daughter and wife.”
The decision for Baier to be with his family more often is even widely respected by his former players.
“Baier is a true players coach and a guy that we can all relate to and have fun with and have a good balance of playing and coaching,” junior running back Travis Sparks-Jackson said.
“We have been talking a lot as a team of what our core values are and for him, his family was valuable to him and you have to respect him for that, even as much as I want to be selfish and have him there for me and the team,” he said.
Coaching for Baier started at crosstown rival, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, where he coached for five years.
Then Baier went to coach quarterbacks at the University of Idaho for one season. Steve Axman, the offense of coordinator at Idaho at the time he was there, had a connection with UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel.
Axman got Baier an interview with Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow and Baier received an offer as an intern for UCLA football following the interview. Baier had also received a full-time coaching job at La Verne during this time.
Baier ultimately decided to come and coach at La Verne.
“Being a full-time coach definitely seemed like the right decision at the time and in my mind has remained the best decision I’ve made because I was able to compile five memorable years here,” Baier said.
“Now I am jumping into a new path that seems like it will be great as well,” he said.
During his five years as a coach for the Leopards, he served as equipment manager, recruiting coordinator and a quarterback coach, which is what he is most commonly known for.
“It is a huge loss,” junior quarterback William Livingston said.
“He knew a ton about the offense and helped install a lot of our offensive identity, so we are losing another great mind on our staff,” he said.
In 2014, La Verne fielded one of the most prolific offenses in program history.
The Leopards ranked 24th in the nation in total offense (472.2 yards per game) and 30th in passing (283.0).
“It is unfortunate because I transferred to La Verne after not seeing eye-to-eye with some of my coaches and it took me a while to open up to Baier and trust him like I do now,” Livingston said. “He is like a father figure to me on campus and on the field with always looking out for me, so it makes it tough.”
Livingston set the school record in passing touchdowns in a game with seven against Whitworth Sept. 20, 2014.
Baier was a big catalyst to Sparks-Jackson developing into an all-conference player.
“He really got me going with my confidence and reassured me that I was the workhorse for the team, but when I got my shot I needed to excel and execute,” Sparks-Jackson said.
“As a team we have to fight adversity, which goes for any team that has ever been good before. There is no doubt other drastic things will happen again next season that we will have to fight through, like players getting hurt or not being able to play and those situations are no different than Baier stepping down,” he said.
Baier wants to stay connected to the football team in every way possible and mentor the players in any way if they have questions.
Ranging on questions about academics, financial aid, admissions, grad school, or any of the other things, Baier will be there.
“I have had the great opportunity to work with some great colleagues and friends, great young men and women at the university, namely in the athletics department, and if I can help those individuals reach their goals and heights that they want to achieve, then this was all for a great reason,” Baier said.
Baier hopes that at some point in his life that he can be back on the sidelines again in a coaching uniform.
“I’ve been a part of football for the better years of my life and it’s not what I do, but merely who I am,” Baier said.
“It’s unfortunate with this new opportunity that football will not be a part of my life on such a drastic level, but with my new opportunity allowing me to be with my family more, I am forever grateful that the admissions department has accepted me with open arms,” he said.
Hal Hargrave can be reached at email@example.com.