WKU

Western Kentucky names Matt Myers Head Coach

FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Matt Myers, who has 18 years Division I experience as a head coach, assistant coach and student-athlete, and worked the previous four years as an assistant on the WKU staff, has been named WKU’s new head baseball coach, Director of Athletics Ross Bjork announced Monday.

Myers has coached 28 professional draft picks or free agents signees, 16 all-conference pitchers, six freshman All-Americans, three first-team All-Americans, two conference pitchers of the year, and two conference freshmen of the year. Myers, who served the last two seasons as WKU’s associate head coach, has also coached five pitchers selected in the top 10 rounds of the MLB draft.

Myers will be introduced at a press conference at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday in the Topper Club at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. The press

conference will be streamed live on wkusports.com.

“Our program has produced significant and meaningful achievements on the field and in the classroom over the last four years, and our mission was to find the best individual to sustain the momentum we have achieved and also elevate the WKU baseball program to the next level,” Bjork said. “The level of interest shown in this position was tremendous, which is a clear indication of how much respect our program has nationwide. The list of candidates who showed interest included individuals with major league baseball playing experience, current collegiate head coaches, former head coaches, and current assistant coaches from major conferences throughout the country.

“However, as our search unfolded, it became clear that Matt Myers was the ideal person to serve as our next head baseball coach. He clearly demonstrated that he has both the right attitude and the blueprint for success that our program needs moving forward. He has high level experience and a proven record of success at multiple levels as a student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach. He also has the respect of his peers, our student-athletes and our community, and no one knows and understands all facets of the WKU baseball program like Matt does. I know that Matt will give his full effort and I have complete confidence that he is the perfect person for our job and that his leadership will enable us to consistently produce the results and high level of success our university, program and community deserves.”

“I am so excited and grateful to have the opportunity to be the next head baseball coach at WKU,” Myers said. “I want to thank President Ransdell and Ross Bjork for their trust and support in me to take this program to the next level. Having put so much into this program and being a proud resident of Bowling Green, it means more than I can express to have this opportunity. This is much more than a job, because this community is so special to us and the support our family has received has been incredible.

“I am looking forward to getting our recruits in and our players back. We will have the enthusiasm, energy and passion necessary to get back to trying to win a Sun Belt Conference Championship and get back into the NCAA Regionals. That is the goal every year and that is the goal this year. The guys have been working hard and playing great over the summer, and I am really proud of those guys in how they supported this entire process. They did a heck of a job and showed a heck of an amount of maturity and I am real appreciative to our players.

“I couldn’t be happier to be the next head coach in a place that I want to be for a long time. WKU is a special place and a special university and our program has so much potential. It is a great time to be a part of what is going on here.”

Matt Myers College Baseball Profile

Associate Head Coach (2010-11), Assistant Coach (2008-09) at WKU

• Team has reached NCAA Regionals twice in last four seasons, matching school’s total over previous 89 seasons – posted three wins in 2009 Oxford regional, defeating Missouri twice and Ole Miss

• Lead recruiter on staff – 17 players have been drafted in MLB draft over last three seasons

• WKU staff ERA ranked 8th, 8th, 9th and 9th in four years prior to arrival, has ranked 2nd, 3rd, 2nd and 4th in four seasons under his direction

• Over last four years, WKU is 5-1 against teams from the Big 12 conference, 4-2 against Kentucky (won last four) and have also posted wins over Louisville, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Tennessee

• Team has highest grade point average in Sun Belt Conference (3.15) and APR of 956 ranks 3rd in conference

• Attendance has increased each of last six seasons

Assistant Coach in SEC at Auburn for three seasons (2005-07)

• Tigers pitching staff posted 3.89 ERA in 2005, lowest school total in 10 seasons

• Four pitchers drafted in first 13 rounds of MLB Draft

Head Coach for four years at UNC-Asheville (2001-04)

• Big South Conference Coach of the Year in 2003

• Set school record for wins and conference wins during tenure

• Graduated 25 players

• Signed student-athletes from 13 different states

• Helped build all facets of program and raised funds for new hitting and pitching facilities

Pitcher in SEC at Tennessee for two seasons (1996-97)

• Helped Vols reach NCAA Tournament both seasons and were one win away from reaching College World Series in 1996 (equivalent of Super Regional finalist)

• Posted 5th highest winning percentage (.765, 13-4 record) in school history

Myers joined the WKU staff in July of 2007 and was promoted to associate head baseball coach following his second season on the staff in 2009.

He has made quite an impact on the WKU baseball program in his first four seasons. The Hilltopper pitching staff has showed significant improvements under Myers’ guidance, finishing in the top three in team ERA in an offensive-dominated Sun Belt Conference in three of the last four seasons.

In 2011, the WKU pitching staff finished first in the league in fewest walks allowed (178), second in saves (13) and third in strikeouts (414). The Hilltoppers were led by sophomore Tanner Perkins who earned second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors and finished the regular season with a league-best 2.32 ERA. Right-hander Justin Hageman was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and the SBC Freshman of the Year. Phil Wetherell was selected in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees.

The 2010 season also saw the Hilltoppers finish first in the league in strikeouts (474) and second in fewest walks allowed (167). The staff averaged 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.89 walks allowed per nine innings which ranked 28th and 17th in the nation, respectively.

The team posted a 4.33 ERA, ranking 29th in the nation, and was led by SBC Pitcher of the Year Matt Ridings, marking the second consecutive year the SBC Pitcher of the Year had been coached by Myers.

Ridings finished his career as one of the most distinguished pitchers to ever play at WKU. He posted a 34-9 career record and totaled 354 strikeouts. The 34 wins and 354 strikeouts are the most ever by a WKU pitcher and are tied for first and rank third all-time in Sun Belt Conference history, respectively. In his four year tenure (2007-10), he led the nation in wins and strikeouts.

At the conclusion of the 2010 season, three pitchers on Myers’ staff were chosen in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Sophomore closer Rye Davis was taken in the 36th round by the Cleveland Indians, reliever Bart Carter was a 39th-round selection by the Minnesota Twins and Matt Ridings went in the 41st round to the Kansas City Royals.

His staff has been instrumental in WKU’s NCAA Tournament appearances two of the last four years, posting earned run averages in the top three of the Sun Belt Conference each year. Myers made an immediate impact in his first season on the Hill in 2008, as the team ERA improved from ninth in the league to second upon his arrival.

In 2009, the Hilltopper staff posted a 5.47 ERA with 450 strikeouts and was led by SBC Pitcher of the Year Matt Hightower. At the conclusion of the season, three on Myers’ staff were chosen in the MLB draft. Reliever J.B. Paxson was taken in the 13th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, junior ace Matt Ridings was a 25th-round selection by the Washington Nationals and Evan Teague went in the 35th round to the Toronto Blue Jays.

In Myers’ first season in 2008, WKU had a 5.41 ERA with a school-record 479 strikeouts. Ridings became just the school’s second 10-game winner in the previous 17 years, and Myers’ guidance helped the staff jump seven spots in team ERA in the conference.

Before joining the WKU baseball staff, Myers spent three seasons as an assistant at Auburn University. In his first year at Auburn, Myers helped lead the Tiger pitching staff to a 3.89 team ERA, the lowest by a Tigers staff in 10 years. The team also posted 21 saves and surrendered just 169 walks during the 2005 season — the fewest walks issued by any staff in the Southeastern Conference. Myers saw four of his pitchers selected in the first 13 rounds of the 2005 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Prior to his arrival at Auburn, Myers served as the head coach at UNC Asheville for four seasons, earning Big South Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2003.

One of the youngest Division I head coaches when named to the post at age 26, Myers directed Asheville to a school-record 27 wins and a tie for second in the Big South in 2003. The Bulldogs finished in the top half of the league standings each of his final three seasons, including a school-record 13 league wins in 2004. As a head coach, Myers had seven pitchers sign professionally and saw four others earn Freshman All-America honors. During his time with the Bulldogs, his pitching staffs set five different school records and finished in the top half of the league statistics each season. He served as an assistant coach at UNC Asheville for a season before being named the school’s sixth head coach in June, 2000.

As a player, Myers pitched two seasons at Tennessee (1996-97), posting a 13-4 career mark and helping the Volunteers to a pair of NCAA Regional appearances. The 1996 Tennessee team was one win shy of making the College World Series, the equivalent of being a Super Regional finalist. His .765 winning percentage ranks fifth all-time at Tennessee. He also pitched a season at Cal State-Sacramento (1994) and Sacramento City College (1995).

A native of Carmichael, Calif., Myers is married to the former Michelle Gillum of Celina, Ohio. The couple has a son, Carson.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT MATT MYERS

DAVE SERRANO – University of Tennessee Head Coach

“It comes with great pleasure to hear that Western Kentucky has chosen Matt Myers to lead its baseball program into the future. I have known Matt for a long time, both as a player and a coach, and have always had the utmost respect for him and how he carries out his responsibilities. The continued success and rise of Western Kentucky baseball is in good hands.”

MATT RIDINGS – Former Hilltopper and current pitcher in Kansas City Royals organization

“I am glad that Coach Myers is getting this opportunity. Every day he went to work and gave 100 percent to make us better as a team. I spent most of my time working with Coach Myers, and he was with me during every bullpen I threw. He is always positive and will help players out with any questions on and off the field. He knows the ropes having played the game, been a head coach previously, and a high-level assistant coach, and he is going to do a tremendous job with the WKU program. Coach Myers was instrumental in my development as a pitcher and a person, and I could not be happier that he is going to take the reins of the Hilltopper baseball program.”

MATT RICE- Former Hilltopper and current catcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization

“I am so excited that he has gotten this opportunity. I think he is an extremely capable coach that is going to take Western Kentucky’s program in the direction that everyone wants it to go. He has a lot of experience and he did countless, countless things for me while I was at WKU, so I am happy for him.”

HAL BAIRD- Former Auburn University Head Coach

“I consider Matt Myers to be one of the fine and up and coming young baseball coaches in the country and am thrilled that he is now going to be the head coach at Western Kentucky. It is a great hire for the university and he will represent the school well both on the field and off. He will put competitive teams on the field and continue the success of the program.”