2021 College Baseball Coaching Changes Tracker
As we do every year, Baseball America is tracking the latest news and movement in the college baseball coaching market. Though the season is just underway, there are already slated to be five openings this summer as a result of two retirements in the first two months of the year and three programs operating under the direction of interim head coaches following changes last year.
The coronavirus pandemic resulted in much less coaching turnover than usual during 2020. Just 14 jobs opened—about half what the market had been averaging—and most of those changes were a result of retirement or moves to professional baseball.
The market is expected to be more active this summer, largely at the low- and mid-major levels. But in the coaching market, things can change quickly. Every time there is movement, this story will update.
Former coach: Brian Shoop (retired)
New coach: Casey Dunn
What to know: Shoop retired in May after 31 years as a head coach, the last 14 coming at UAB. He won 1,061 games in his career and led Birmingham Southern to the 2001 NAIA national championship. Dunn moves across town from Samford, where he won more than 500 games and led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament three times in 17 years.
Former coach: Bretton Richardson
New coach: Reginald Williams
What to know: Richardson is out after six years at Alcorn State. During his tenure, the Braves did not win more than 16 games in a season. Williams now will take over the program. The former big leaguer has coached in the minor leagues for the last decade, first with Milwaukee and most recently with Cincinnati.
Former coach: Jay Johnson
New coach: Chip Hale
What to know: After leading the Wildcats to the College World Series twice in six years, Johnson was hired away by Louisiana State. As Johnson's replacement, Arizona hired Chip Hale, who played on its 1986 national championship team. Hale, 56, is a longtime big-league coach and was the D-backs manager from 2015-16. Most recently, he was the Tigers third-base coach. While his resume in baseball is lengthy, he has never coached in college before.
Former coach: Tracy Smith
New coach: Willie Bloomquist
What to know: Smith is out after seven years at Arizona State. He went 201-155 with the Sun Devils and made regionals in four of his six full seasons. But Arizona State never won a regional or finished better than third in the Pac-12. It's hard not to wonder what would have been if the 2020 season had continued - Arizona State had four players drafted in the first four rounds, including No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson - or if the Sun Devils hadn't been hit so hard by injuries on the mound in 2021. But standards are high in Phoenix, though Arizona State has not won a national title since 1981. The man now tasked with ending that drought is Willie Bloomquist, who spent the last six years as a special assistant to the GM for the Arizona D-backs. Bloomquist, 43, starred at Arizona State, winning Pac-10 player of the year honors in 1999 and went on to play 14 years in the major leagues. He doesn't have any college coaching experience, however, and will now look to take the Sun Devils to the next level.
Cal State Fullerton
Former coach: Rick Vanderhook (retired)
New coach: Jason Dietrich
What to know: Vanderhook led his alma mater for 10 years, twice guiding the Titans to the College World Series and winning the Big West five times. But at a program that has won four national titles, standards are high and Fullerton had slipped in the last few years. In 2019, the TItans missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 30 years and they went 24-47 over the last two seasons. That was enough to lead to Vanderhook's retirement and Fullerton into a coaching search, which ended with the Titans hiring Dietrich, a well-respected pitching coach. Dietrich most recently was East Carolina's pitching coach for the last two seasons and previously held the same role at Oregon, Fullerton and UC Irvine.
Former coach: Allen Gum (retired)
New coach: Nick Harlan
What to know: Gum, the winningest coach in program history, retired following the 2021 season. He coached the Bears for 11 seasons and in 2013 led them to their first NCAA Tournament appearance. Harlan has been on staff since that 2013 NCAA Tournament team and now will take over the program as head coach. Prior to joining the staff at Central Arkansas, he was a head coach at York (Neb.), an NAIA school.
Former coach: James Cooper
New coach: Davin Pierre (interim)
What to know: Cooper resigned in November after 12 years as head coach of his alma mater to take a job in the Yankees organization. He led the Tigers to the Southwest Athletic Conference championship in 2010, their first in 25 years, and for the last four seasons finished either first or second in the SWAC West Division. Pierre was an assistant coach throughout Cooper's tenure and now takes over as interim head coach. He is also a Grambling alumnus.
Former coach: Justin Blood
New coach: Steve Malinowski
What to know: Blood spent the last 10 years as the Hawks coach, building a solid program in the America East Conference. In 2018, he led Hartford to its first conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance. But in May, Hartford announced its intention to move its athletic department to Division III within the next three years. In the resulting athletic department upheaval, Blood left to take over as head coach of Keene State (N.H.), a Division III school. Malinowski, who spent 10 years as an assistant coach on Blood's staff, was promoted to head coach. He has been the Hawks associate head coach since 2016, also serving as the team's hitting coach and recruiting coordinator.
Former coach: Mike Trapasso
New coach: Rich Hill
What to know: Trapasso's contract was up this summer and he is out after 20 seasons as head coach at Hawaii. He twice led the Warriors to the NCAA Tournament (2006, 2010), their first appearances since 1992. Hawaii has plenty of history and a strong fan base, but this isn't an easy job. It has not finished better than fifth place in the Big West since joining the conference for the 2013 season. Hill comes to Hawaii after 23 years as the head coach at San Diego. He led the Toreros to the NCAA Tournament eight times and is the winningest coach in West Coast Conference history. He also coached Kris Bryant, the 2013 Player of the Year, during his USD tenure.
Former coach: Craig Cozart
New coach: Joey Hammond
What to know: High Point announced on June 2 that it and Cozart had mutually agreed to part ways. Cozart leaves the program after 12 seasons as head coach, going 339-337. Hammond was hired from Wake Forest, where he was the volunteer assistant coach for the last seven years. Prior to his time at Wake Forest, he was the head coach at Westchester Country Day School in High Point, N.C., for five seasons.
Former coach: John Russo (retired)
New coach: Frank Catalanotto
What to know: Russo retired after 10 years as head coach of the Pride, leaving as the winningest coach in program history. Hofstra twice made the Colonial Athletic Association in his tenure, most recently in 2018. Catalanotto, 47, is a former big leaguer and Long Island native. He played 14 years in the major leagues and since retiring was the coach for two years at New York Tech and in 2019 led the Bears to the Division II College World Series.
Former coach: Jared Moon
New coach: Lance Berkman
What to know: Moon resigned after 16 seasons as head coach of HBU, his alma mater. Moon is the winningest coach in program history, led the Huskies to the 2007 NAIA World Series, guided them through their transition to Division I and an appearance in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. In a statement, Moon said he was resigning to spend more time with his family. Replacing Moon is Lance Berkman, who was a standout player in the city - first at Rice and then with the Astros. He's never been a Division I college coach before, but spent the last year as an assistant coach at Division III St. Thomas (Texas) and four years as a high school coach.
Former coach: Mike Dee (retired)
New coach: Sean McDermott
What to know: Dee retired following the season, ending a 23-year run as head coach of the Flames. He is the winningest coach in program history, having led UIC to 680 wins and six NCAA Tournament appearances, most recently in 2019. McDermott was promoted to succeed him, having served as Dee's assistant coach throughout his tenure.
Former coach: Paul Panik
New coach: Conor Burke
What to know: Iona in June announced Panik would not return as head coach. Burke was hired to take over the program after spending the last two years as a Dartmouth assistant coach.
Former coach: Mike Sansing (retired)
New coach: Ryan Coe
What to know: Sansing retired following the season, his 30th at Kennesaw State. During his tenure, he guided the Owls from NAIA to Division II to Division I, winning at every level. In 2014, he led KSU to the postseason at the Division I level for the first time, with his team going all the way to a super regional. Sansing's 1,160 wins ranked sixth among active coaches when he retired. Succeeding him will be Coe, who is a member of Kennesaw State's hall of fame and was a part of the Owls' 1994 NAIA national championship team. He went on to serve as an assistant coach for 13 years under Sansing, before spending the last 12 years as a scout for the Rangers.
Former coach: Ryan Mau
New coach: Chad Oxendine
What to know: Mau is out after seven seasons as head coach at Longwood, going 122-219 in that time. Longwood has had just three coaches in its program history: Mau, Brian McCullough - who was interim head coach in 2014 - and Buddy Bolding, who led the program for 36 years. Now, Oxendine, a former Longwood assistant coach, joins that list. He was the Lancers' recruiting coordinator from 2015-17 and spent the last four seasons on staff at Coastal Carolina, serving first as director of operations and most recently as director of player development.
Former coach: Paul Mainieri (retired)
New coach: Jay Johnson
What to know: Mainieri, whose 1,505 wins rank seventh most all-time, on May 28 announced he will retire following the season. He led the Tigers for 15 seasons, winning the national championship in 2009 and finishing as runners-up in 2017. Replacing him will be Johnson, who twice led Arizona to the College World Series in six years as head coach. LSU is one of the biggest jobs in college baseball, but Johnson should be ready for the challenge.
Former coach: Nick Barese
New coach: Brian Murphy
What to know: Barese spent the last seven years as head coach at Merrimack and oversaw the program's move from Division II to Division I. Murphy was hired away from William & Mary, where he spent the last eight years as head coach. He led the Tribe to the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and now will return to his alma mater as head coach.
Mississippi Valley State
Former coach: Aaron Stevens
New coach: Stanley Stubbs
What to know: Stevens is out after 21 years on staff, including the last seven as head coach. This is one of the toughest jobs in America and the Delta Devils have had consecutive winless seasons. Stubbs comes to MVSU from Rust (Miss.), an NAIA school. He has a long coaching resume and in 2000-01 won back-to-back Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference coach of the year honors, first with Paine (Ga.) and then Albany State (Ga.).
Mount St. Mary's
Former coach: Scott Thomson
New coach: Frank Leoni
What to know: Thomson resigned as head coach on the eve of the season for personal reasons and Jeff Gergic was elevated to interim head coach for 2021. Leoni was hired in June after eight seasons as head coach at Marymount (Va.), a Division III program he started from scratch in 2014. He also has previously been a head coach at William & Mary and Rhode Island, his alma mater.
Former coach: Ray Birmingham (retired)
New coach: Tod Brown
What to know: Birmingham announced April 18 that he would retire at the end of the season, his 14th at New Mexico. He has been a head coach in his home state for 34 years and is the winningest coach in state history. Under Birminham's guidance, the Lobos advanced to the NCAA Tournament five times from 2010-16 after making regionals just once before in program history. Brown spent the last 14 years at North Dakota State. He twice led the Bison to the NCAA Tournament, including this season. Those were their first NCAA Tournament appearances since 1956.
Former coach: Seth Thibodeaux
New coach: Mike Silva
What to know: Thibodeaux resigned following the season, his 11th as head coach. He went 287-290 in his tenure, with his best years coming in 2014-15, when the Colonels won more than 30 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992-93. Silva comes to Nicholls State after spending the last three seasons as the pitching coach at Louisiana Tech, this season helping the Bulldogs to their best season in more than 30 years. In addition to his time as an assistant coach at La Tech, Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas State, he also has head coaching experience from Galveston (Texas) JC and Clarendon (Texas) JC.
Former coach: Todd Asalon (retired)
New coach: Dizzy Peyton
What to know: Asalon announced in February that the 2021 season would be his last. He is retiring after 21 years as the head coach of his alma mater. At the time of his announcement, he had won 692 career games and guided the program through its transition from Division II to Division I. Peyton in June was promoted to head coach after 17 years on staff at NKU, his alma mater.
Former coach: Spencer Allen
New coach: Josh Reynolds (interim)
What to know: Allen announced at the end of the season that he was resigning after six years as head coach at Northwestern, saying that "it is time now to give that fous and energy to my kids, wife, extended family and friends." Allen was the first Black head baseball coach in Big Ten history and under his direction the Wildcats made strong strides. Now, Reynolds, who was Allen's associate head coach, will look to continue their work.
Former coach: Rob Smith (retired)
New coach: Craig Moore
What to know: Smith retired in January after eight years as head coach at Ohio. He led the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and 2017, their first regional appearances since 1997. Moore, who worked as an assistant coach throughout Smith’s tenure, was named interim head coach for the 2021 season. The school this summer removed the interim tag from Smith's title.
Former coach: Matt Bragga
New coach: Jose Cruz Jr.
What to know: Bragga in June 2018 was hired to replace Wayne Graham after he led Tennessee Tech to super regionals. Bragga inherited a difficult situation and never really settled in, going 51-76-1 in three seasons. It was a quick dismissal - Bragga spent three seasons at Rice, two of which were impacted by the pandemic - and now Rice is reaching back to the history of its program for its next head coach. Cruz Jr. was one of Rice's first stars under Graham and went on to play 12 years in the major leagues. His son, Trei Cruz, went on to play shortstop at Rice from 2018-20. While Cruz has plenty of ties to the Owls, he is still new to coaching. He spent the last six months as an assistant hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers, but has never coached in college baseball.
Former coach: Larry Sudbrook
New coach: B.J. Salerno (interim)
What to know: Sudbrook on Oct. 4 announced he would retire, effective Dec. 31, after 36 seasons as head coach of the Bonnies. Sudbrook won 725 games in his career, making him the winningest baseball coach in Atlantic 10 Conference history. He in 2004 led St. Bonaventure to its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Salerno, who was a standout catcher for the Bonnies, and ahs been an assistant coach under Sudbrook for eight seasons will in 2022 serve as interim head coach.
Former coach: Casey Dunn
New coach: Tony David
What to know: Dunn, 44, led Samford to more than 500 wins and three NCAA Tournament appearances before moving across town to Alabama-Birmingham. David served as an assistant coach on Dunn's staff throughout his tenure and now will take over as head coach of one of the top programs in the Southern Conference.
Former coach: Rich Hill
New coach: Brock Ungricht
What to know: Hill was hired away by Hawaii after 23 years as the head coach at USD. He built the Toreros into a regional power - leading them to the NCAA Tournament eight times (the first appearances in program history - and is the winningest coach in West Coast Conference history. USD lately has not matched its heights from early last decade, however, and has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2013 (Kris Bryant's last season). Ungricht was promoted to head coach after two seasons on Hill's staff. A San Diego native, he previously worked as a scout for the Cardinals and was an assistant coach at Stanford.
Former coach: Kerrick Jackson
New coach: Chris Crenshaw
What to know: Jackson in November was hired away after three seasons as head coach to become the president of the new MLB Draft League, a summer collegiate league. Crenshaw, a Southern alumnus and Jackson’s assistant coach for the last two years, was named interim coach for the 2021 season. After Crenshaw led the Jaguars to the SWAC Tournament title and a second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, Southern removed the interim tag, making him the head coach moving forward.
Former coach: Steve Smith
New coach: Matt Bragga
What to know: Smith resigned as head coach effective Oct. 31 to take a job with the Detroit Tigers as their upper-level pitching coordinator. The former Baylor head coach leaves Cookeville after two seasons, going 25-37 overall and 22-25 in 2021. Smith's departure left the Golden Eagles searching for their third head coach since advancing to the 2018 super regionals and they ended up bringing back the architect of the most successful team in Ohio Valley Conference history in Bragga. He previously spent 15 seasons at Tennessee Tech, ending his tenure with back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and a sensational 2018 season that saw the Golden Eagles win 53 games and fall just one win shy of the College World Series. He left after that season to become the head coach at Rice, where he went 51-76-1 in three seasons before he was fired in June. While he was unable to get the Owls on track, he now returns to a program he knows well and with which he has won big.
Former coach: Rob Childress
New coach: Jim Schlossnagle
What to know: Childress is out after 16 seasons at Texas A&M. His contract was up and was not renewed after the Aggies finished in last place in the SEC West and missed regionals for the first time since Childress' first season. While the contract situation made it easier for A&M to move on from Childress, athletic director Ross Bjork needed a home run hire and got one in Schlossnagle, who built Texas Christian into a power over the last 18 years. Schlossnagle, the 2016 Coach of the Year, is one of the top coaches in the industry and led the Horned Frogs to Omaha five times sinc 2010 - only one less time than the Aggies have been in their program's history.
Former coach: Jim Schlossnagle
New coach: Kirk Saarloos
What to know: After 18 years in Fort Worth, Schlossnagle left TCU to take over as head coach of Texas A&M. He built the Horned Frogs into a national power and led them to the College World Series five times. He had tested the market previously, but no one had been able to hire him away. Now, however, the Horned Frogs will enter a new era under Saarloos, who spent the last nine seasons as TCU's pitching coach. Saarloos has patiently waited for this opportunity, turning down overtures from Stanford and Rice over the years, and now will look to build on the Frogs' momentum in his new role.
Former coach: Mark Smartt
New coach: Skylar Meade
What to know: Smartt stepped down after six seasons as head coach of his alma mater. He went 172-135 and led the Trojans to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Meade, 36, has developed a strong reputation as a pitching coach over the last decade. He spent the last four seasons at South Carolina, which built an impressive pitching staff under his direction. He previously was the pitching coach for Michigan State, Middle Tennessee State and Eastern Illinois.
Former coach: Matt Vaughn
New coach: Tommy Nicholson
What to know: Vaughn on Nov. 12 resigned in the wake of a university investigation into allegations of hazing in the program. “Head coach Matt Vaughn failed to take appropriate steps to address a concern brought to his attention about possible hazing involving the baseball team in 2018,” the university stated. In addition to the investigation, the Aggies are coming off a poor season, as they went 14-43 and finished in last place in the Big West at 8-32. Despite the turmoil and the late star to the coaching search UCD made a strong hire in Tommy Nicholson. He spent the last four years as an assistant coach at Stanford and previously coached at Sacramento State and Texas, his alma mater.
Former coach: Troy Percival
New coach: Justin Johnson (interim)
What to know: Percival, a former All-Star, in November resigned after five seasons as head coach of his alma mater. His resignation was in part brought on by UCR’s uncertain athletic future, as the university reviews whether it wants to sponsor a Division I athletics department. Johnson was named interim head coach after spending the last six years on staff at UCR.
Former coach: Bill Kinneberg (retired)
New coach: Gary Henderson
What to know: Kinneberg announced his retirement May 24 after 18 years as the program's head coach. He led Utah to two NCAA Tournament appearances - its first since 1960 - and won the 2016 Pac-12 championship. He also was a head coach at Texas-El Paso and Wyoming. Henderson in June was promoted to replace him after spending the last two years on staff as associate head coach. Henderson has plenty of head coach experience himself - he was head coach at Kentucky from 2009-16 and then as interim head coach at Mississippi State for most of the 2018 season, he led the Bulldogs to Omaha.
Former coach: Eric Madsen
New coach: Eddie Smith
What to know: Madsen on April 27 announced his resignation as head coach effective immediately and Carter was elevated to the interim head coach. Madsen was head coach for 13 seasons at UVU and in 2016 led the program to its first regional. After David Carter guided the Wolverines for the final 18 games of the season, the school opened the search nationally and hired Smith, who spent the last two years as the volunteer assistant at Louisiana State. He's worked several places throughout his coaching career, including a stint as head coach of Lower Columbia (Wash.) JC.
Former coach: Jim Carone
New coach: Craig Noto
What to know: Carone resigned at the end of Wagner's season after 10 years as head coach. He went 207-266-1 and in 2018 led the Seahawks to a program-record 38 wins. Noto was promoted to replace Carone after spending the last six seasons as an assistant coach. He also has spent six years as a manager in the Northwoods League.
William & Mary
Former coach: Brian Murphy
New coach: Mike McRae
What to know: After eight seasons as head coach, Murphy was hired away to become head coach at Merrimack, his alma mater. He led the Tribe to the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and won at least 30 games in four seasons. McRae this fall was hired to replace Murphy. He comes to William & Mary after spending the last four years as the pitching coach at Virginia Commonwealth, helping the Rams to the NCAA Tournament in 2021. He also spent 13 seasons as head coach of Canisius, where he twice led the Griffins to the NCAA Tournament - their first two appearances in program history.