Following previous Athletic Director, Taylor Hasty, who recently accepted a position at Silverdale Baptist Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn., Bryan College didn’t have to look far for their next Director of Athletics as Mike Keen was promoted to the position after having served the 2017-18 season as Assistant Athletic Director while leading the Fishing Team as the Head Coach for the past four years. Keen will continue as the leader of the Lion Anglers, but the change in roles has also led to Will Tholken receiving a promotion.
After serving as the Coordinator of Athletic Operations for the previous four years, Tholken is now taking on the role of Assistant Athletic Director.
Bryan took advantage of the already experienced staff on deck, giving way to a smooth transition while the kickoff for fall sports waits just around the corner. The first contest of the fall 2018 season is slated for August 21 and is the home opener for women’s soccer versus the Tigers of Campbellsville University, giving less than a month for everyone to settle in.
“The Athletic Director’s job is one of service to his coaches and his department,” said Keen. “I hope to continue the path that Coach Hasty has put us on and keep our coaches in a position to be successful.”
Keen became a member of the Bryan Athletics staff during the 2014-15 season when he was given the responsibility to establish a fishing team and oversee the anglers. Despite being one of the younger programs in the Lion Pride, Keen and his squad have had unprecedented success!
The Lions set a surprising bar themselves in the inaugural season with an 18th-place finish in the running for school of the year but was able to better it in 2015-16 by cracking the top-10 and battling for 6th place. In just their 3rd year, the Bryan fishing team earned their place in the record books by being crowned 2017 Cabela’s School of the Year by outlasting every collegiate fishing team in the country, showing true consistency on the water and securing a top-10 finish in every tournament throughout the year except two, with one being 13th and the other being the Cabela’s National Championship.
In their first season, The Bryan anglers fished eight major tournaments, which assisted Keen in one of his primary objectives for the program, “…to use this program to gain visibility for our college.”
The Lions are coming off a 2017-18 season where they finished in the top-10 in the running for Cabela’s School of the Year, recognizing them as one of the best in the entire country. They had a boat place 2nd in the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Cabela’s. The same boat was able to win Bryan’s home tournament on Lake Chickamauga while finishing 4th of 263 boats at Lake Cherokee. Bryan had three boats qualify and fish in the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, four boats take part in the Cabela’s BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship, and six boats compete in the Bassmaster National Championship.
One of the more exciting events may have been when Lion angler Jacob Foutz represented Bryan College at the world famous Bassmaster Classic, considered by most to be “The Super Bowl of Bass Fishing.” He qualified by coming out on top in the 2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series. Just qualifying to fish the Classic is the equivalent of an Emmy nomination. He finished 39th of 52, outfishing many of the nation’s best professional anglers.
Prior to joining the Bryan staff, Keen operated a local insurance agency for 34 years. After retirement in 2012, the opportunity presented itself to organize the collegiate fishing team at Bryan College.
Mike resides in Dayton, Tenn. with his wife Rissa, who is a kindergarten teacher at Frazier Elementary. Mike and Rissa have three children: Gabe a Bryan graduate who teaches History at Campbell County High School, Marissa an attorney at law in Nashville, and Micayla who is starting her senior year at Bryan. They also have two grandchildren, Grady and Lydia.