Longwood and Eastern Michigan announced Wednesday they have hired new head coaches, leaving UC Riverside, New Mexico State and Rhode Island as the only Division I programs that still have head coaching vacancies. URI coach Jim Foster left this week for an assistant job at Boston College. A roundup of the week’s news and rumblings:
• Eastern Michigan tabbed Mark Van Ameyde as its head coach, replacing Jay Alexander. Van Ameyde spent the last six years as Michigan State’s pitching coach under Jake Boss. Before that, he spent one year working with Boss at Eastern Michigan, leading the Eagles to the NCAA tournament. His 16-year coaching career also includes stops at Georgetown, Detroit-Mercy and St. Mary’s (Mich.) College, where he served as head coach.
• Longwood hired Ryan Mau, who spent the last four years as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Navy. He also spent four years on the staff at Virginia Military Institute and had stints at Marist and Charleston Southern. He pitched at College of Charleston from 1998-2001. Mau replaces Brian McCullough, who led the Lancers to a 22-33 record in his only year at the helm as a 28-year-old this spring.
• Boston College coach Mike Gambino made a splash in the Northeast by luring Foster from Rhode Island to become his associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. Gambino replaces Scott Friedholm, who left to become head coach at UNC Asheville. In nine seasons at URI, Foster led the Rams to a pair of Atlantic 10 Conference titles and seven 30-plus-win seasons. Despite modest resources, Rhode Island was one of the most consistent programs in New England during his tenure, though it struggled through a 13-40 season this year. This move is a signal that BC is ramping up his commitment to its baseball program; a major facility upgrade is also rumored to be on the way soon.
The Rams should make sure Franklin Pierce (N.H.) coach Jayson King is near the top of their list of candidates to replace Foster. King has built the Ravens into a national power at the Division II level, and he is extremely well regarded by scouts and coaches in the region. Another possibility is Frank Leoni, who led the Rams to their only regional appearance in 2005 (when Foster was the pitching caoch). Leoni then left for William & Mary, where he coached until 2012. He currently serves as head coach at Division III Marymount (Va.).
• UC Riverside is expected to hire former big league closer Troy Percival, a UCR alumnus, as its head coach. Percival helped build a new clubhouse for the Highlanders with his bare hands back in 2007; he has been a key supporter for the program. His former Angels teammate Darin Erstad has found success as a college head coach at Nebraska.
• New Mexico State is interviewing Kentucky assistant Brian Green (a former NMSU player with a strong track record at UK, UCLA, Hawaii and San Diego) for its head job this week. Other candidates for the job include former Arizona State coach Tim Esmay and Lamar (Colo.) CC coach Scott Crampton (another New Mexico State alum and former assistant coach).