Kessinger leaves Arkansas State

FROM PRESS RELEASE
JONESBORO (6/16/08) – Arkansas State Head Baseball Coach Keith Kessinger has elected not to accept the contract offered by ASU and will not return next season as the Red Wolves head coach, ASU Director of Athletics Dr. Dean Lee announced Monday.

Kessinger is completing the final year of a three-year contract which was extended following the 2005 season. He was offered a one-year extension following the 2008 season. Kessinger came to Arkansas State prior to the 2003 season and compiled a 151-178-1 record over the last six years, including a 33-23 record in 2005, the fourth-most victories ever for an ASU baseball team.

The Indian offense posted a record breaking performance in 2005 under Kessinger’s guidance as it re-wrote the ASU record books in almost every offensive category. The Tribe posted single season records in batting average (.314), runs scored (429), hits (632), doubles (135), home runs (78), runs batted in (390) and total bases (1023).

“I am extremely grateful for the contributions Coach Kessinger has made to the ASU baseball program, both on and off the field over the past six seasons,” said ASU Director of Athletics Dr. Dean Lee. “He has been an outstanding representative not just for ASU Baseball, but for the entire University. The ASU baseball program has certainly improved as a whole under Keith’s direction, and we are fortunate to have had him as our baseball coach.”

“Keith’s efforts and dedication to fundraising and to the improvement of our facilities has been outstanding,” added Lee. “In addition, the character displayed by Keith and the teams he has fielded has been a constant source of pride for Arkansas State University.”

During Kessinger’s time at Arkansas State, extensive improvements were made to Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field. Over 200 seats were added to Tomlinson Stadium in time for the 2008 season, all at field level. The new seating included 26 handicap-accessible seats and moved the fans in the front row more than 20 feet closer to home plate than in the past. The ASU Legacy Walk was created during the offseason to honor friends of ASU Baseball for their contributions to the program, and during the 2007 season, the Barton’s Baseball Deck was completed. The ASU baseball program also resurfaced the infield, added a second indoor batting cage, constructed two outdoor all-weather batting cages, relocated the bullpens, improved both teams’ dugouts, refurbished the team’s locker room, added landscaping features throughout the facility, added a batter’s eye, replaced the speakers/sound system and constructed a new brick entrance into the ballpark.

Arkansas State posted a single game attendance record of 742 for a game against Ole Miss in Kessinger’s first season, a mark that was shattered in 2008 when 1,019 fans attended the ASU-Memphis game March 11. The Indians also set an attendance record for a three-game series in 2006 as they drew 1,488 for a series against nationally-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette.

“I want to thank Dr Lee for his support over the past six years for our baseball program and for me personally,” said Kessinger. “I don’t believe that any athletic director in the country has seen more baseball games and been more emotionally supportive than he has been.”

“I am very appreciative of my assistant coaches who have spent endless hours making this program better,” Kessinger added. “I have also been blessed with a remarkable group of players who represented themselves, our program, and our university with incredible class. I am certain that from the standpoint of facility improvements, fundraising, academics (APR), and ticket sales that this program is in the best shape that it has been since I arrived six years ago. I believe that I am leaving the program better than it was in 2002. My family and I have loved our time in Jonesboro and will miss the many friends that we have made. I will always be an ASU fan.”

Kessinger will have no further comment on this matter and nationwide search will begin immediately for his replacement.