GREELEY, Colo. -- One of the most successful coaches in Big Sky Conference history returns to the league as the newly appointed head coach at Northern Colorado. Mike Phillips, who won four Big Sky Coach of the Year awards takes over the Bears' program from Tim Bearman, who left the profession to work in the private sector.

"We are extremely excited to have Mike lead our men's team," said Dan Weaver, who is serving as a special assistant to the president for interim athletic responsibilities. "He has a proven track record in the Big Sky Conference and [we] feel he can continue the positive advances that Northern Colorado men's tennis has made in the last two years."

Phillips spent 12 years (2000-12) as the head coach at Montana State, advancing to the Big Sky tournament semifinals in nine of his 12 seasons and winning three titles in a row from 2004-06. With the Bobcats, he had 31 Big Sky All-Conference selections, 42 Big Sky All-Academic picks and his 2005 team ended the season ranked 69th.

During that 2005 season, Phillips was named both the USPTA Intermountain and the ITA Mountain Region Coach of the Year

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime to get back into coaching collegiate tennis," Phillips said. "I feel really lucky already having met the team and inheriting such a great group of guys, both on and off the court. One thing I've been amazed with is how UNC has grown in its facilities, the campus and the university center. This is a great place to be and to recruit to and this program has great potential."

Prior to Montana State, Phillips was an assistant coach at Colorado from 1997-00. During his tenure in Boulder, the Buffaloes recorded 33 wins.

Phillips served as a tennis pro for two years at the Breckenridge Recreation Center and was the head pro and program director at the Boulder Country Club for four years before joining the CU staff. He also served as a tennis pro at the Tennis Club of Albuquerque.

As a player, he played collegiately at Colorado Mesa, where his team was ranked in the top 20 of the NAIA. Phillips was twice named MVP of the Mavericks in his four-year career.

A native of Las Cruces, N.M., Phillips earned a bachelor's degree in kinesiology in 1999 from Colorado. He and his wife, Ginger, a former CU women's assistant coach, have conducted numerous camps and clinics throughout the United States.

"I have so much respect for Brenda [Vlasak] and Tim [Bearman] for building the program and getting it to where it is today," Phillips said. "I'm ready to get to work with this team."