University News

LaBranche Named Athletic Director

Published: June 18, 2018 | Categories: All News

Former baseball coach led Golden Bears to unprecedented success

Photo of Matthew LaBranche in baseball cap with sunglasses.

Western New England University President Anthony S. Caprio announced that Matthew LaBranche has been appointed Director of Athletics, Recreational Sport, and Physical Education. He will  begin his tenure on Monday, July 2.

“Western New England University is committed to creating innovative and educationally purposeful athletics experiences for all students. Matt LaBranche is a skilled leader with a demonstrated commitment to the Golden Bear philosophy of excellence in academics, athletics, leadership, and service,” said President Caprio. 

LaBranche was selected following a national search.

Commenting on his appointment, LaBranche noted “I am thrilled to be returning home! It will be an honor to serve the University and its student-athletes as Director of Athletics, Recreational Sport, and Physical Education. Western New England University is a special learning community—a place where all associated take special pride in what it means to be a Golden Bear. I am eager to re-connect with our student-athletes and coaches in order to learn from them how I can elevate their experience. The partnerships we can develop together both internally and externally will be vital to ensuring the continuation of Athletics’ service to the mission of the University.”

LaBranche is no stranger to Western New England, having served as baseball coach at the University for 14 seasons from 2000-13. He led the program to unprecedented success, winning nearly 70 percent of the games he coached with a 429-187 (.696) record. His squads captured nine conference championships (four GNAC, five CCC), reached the NCAA Division III Tournament on 10 occasions, and advanced all the way to the College World Series in 2011.

“Matt has a proven track record of developing student-athletes. His keen understanding of the synergies among athletics, academics, recruitment, retention, and fundraising makes him ideally suited to lead our athletics department into Western New England’s second century as an educational leader,” said Caprio.

In addition to his coaching duties at Western New England, LaBranche served as Coordinator of Physical Education for six years, as well as roles including Instructor of Health/Physical Education, compliance assistant, and contest manager.

LaBranche left Western New England to become head coach at Eastern Connecticut State University in the summer of 2013. He guided the Warriors to 124 victories over five seasons, a pair of Little East Conference championships, and two trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Outside of baseball, LaBranche was active within the Eastern Connecticut athletic department and University as game operations manager, travel coordinator, and assistant compliance coordinator in addition to serving on the Title IX Committee and Student Affairs Professional Development Committee.

LaBranche earned his bachelor’s (‘92) and master’s (‘94) degrees in physical education from Springfield College. He graduated summa cum laude and was a four-year member of the baseball team.

In 19 years as a college head coach between Western New England and Eastern Connecticut, LaBranche compiled 553 victories, 12 conference championships, 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, and numerous conference/regional coach of the year accolades.