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After 37 years at the helm, Stetson head coach Pete Dunn announced his retirement Monday, effective immediately.
Dunn compiled a 1,312-888-3 record with the Hatters, coaching 62 players who went on to play professionally, including seven major leaguers, including Corey Kluber, Jacob deGrom and Chris Johnson. Dunn was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014, ranking 15th on the all-time list for career coaching victories in NCAA Division I History.
Dunn had announced last spring that he planned to retire after the 2017 season, but after recovery from an offseason knee replacement surgery lingered, he decided it would be best for the program to step away now.
“This is the right time for me to hand the program over to someone else, both personally and for the program moving forward,” Dunn said in a release. “I have given my life to Stetson University, and the Stetson baseball program, for 40 years. I still carry my love for the game, but it is time for me to move on.
“I have mixed emotions. As long as I can remember, back to when I was a little kid, I have been playing baseball or coaching. It is going to be tough to walk away from it. Obviously, I am going to stay very interested. Game days will be the toughest because I really enjoy coaching on game days. It is not going to be easy, but it is time.”
A former player at Stetson, Dunn’s contract runs through the 2017 season, and he’ll stay involved with the program with the role of head coach emeritus, in which he’ll focus on fundraising and public relations for Stetson baseball.
“‘Emeritus,’ I think, is the Latin word for ‘old,’” Dunn joked in his Monday press conference.
The plan is to announce Dunn’s successor next Monday, said athletic director Jeff Altier, who played and coached under Dunn at Stetson. The five finalists for the position include Stetson’s top assistant Mark Leavitt, who’s entering his eighth season with program; as well as Florida State pitching coach Mike Bell; Jeff Smith, the manager of high Class A Fort Myers in the Twins organization; Todd Greene with the Diamondbacks organization; and Steve Trimper, the head coach of Maine.
In his time as head coach, Dunn led the Hatters to 17 NCAA tournaments, won three Atlantic Sun regular season titles, six ASUN tournament championships and was named the ASUN coach of the year six times.
“As someone who played for Coach Dunn, coached with him and, for the last 20 years served as director of athletics, I can tell you that no one is more passionate about seeing Stetson Baseball succeed than Pete is,” Altier said in a release. “I am so pleased that he is able to walk away at a time when the program is still basking in the success of last spring’s run to the ASUN championship and trip to the Coral Gables regional.
“There is a very solid foundation in place here to return to that championship level year-after-year. That is a credit to what Coach Dunn has built over the last 37 years as head coach.”
Dunn said he is looking forward to spending time with his family and traveling with his wife, Debbie. Fishing, he said, has long been his passion, and he should have plenty of time for that, too. And of course, he’ll be following Stetson closely.
“I love games. I love managing games. That in itself on a day-to-day basis, I’m going to miss a lot,” Dunn said in the press conference. “The student athletes, interacting with them, it’s great, especially seeing the ones who come back and stay involved in the program . . . I really enjoy the competition, that I’m going to miss. It’s going to be different sitting up in the stands.”