GREENVILLE, N.C. – Cliff Godwin, a four-year Pirate letterman who has been a part of seven NCAA Regional and two College World Series appearances coaching at the Division I level, has been appointed head baseball coach at East Carolina University according to an announcement from director of athletics Jeff Compher on Wednesday.
With his hiring, Godwin becomes ECU’s 16th head baseball coach in the school’s history and will be introduced to the community at 11:00 a.m. Thursday at Harvey Hall inside the Murphy Center.
“It is an honor to be in a position to lead the East Carolina baseball program and serve my alma mater,” Godwin said. “I consider it a privilege to carry on Coach LeClair’s legacy and represent not only the guys I played with, but all former Pirates who have made this a special place. My goal is to provide a product on and off the field people will be proud of and to develop good baseball players and even better human beings.”
Raised in Snow Hill, N.C. and a prep product of Greene Central High School, Godwin most recently served as Ole Miss’ assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, where he helped lead the Rebels to their first College World Series appearance since 1972. During his three-year tenure in Oxford, Godwin was an integral part of NCAA Regional teams all three seasons and spearheaded recruiting efforts that garnered four Top 22 recruiting classes, including a No. 5 ranking in 2013 by Perfect Game, and had nine Major League Draft selections – three of which went in the first five rounds.
En route to a share of third place at the 2014 CWS, Godwin’s Rebel hitters ranked first in the Southeastern Conference in batting average (.303) and second in both home runs (42) and runs scored (396) on its way to the league’s West Division crown.
A former catcher for the Pirates from 1998 to 2001, Godwin mentored 2013 Johnny Bench Award Winner and first-team All-America selection Stuart Turner, who batted .374 and threw out 52 percent of base runners on steal attempts.
He continued to develop some of the top hitters in recent program history in 2014 as senior Will Allen and junior Auston Bousfield earned All-America accolades, while J.B. Woodman garnered Freshman All-America status. Allen, the Rebels leading hitter (.341) and top RBI man with 64, is a finalist for the ‘14 Johnny Bench Award.
Prior to joining the Rebels, Godwin spent three seasons as the associate head coach at the University of Central Florida, where he directed the Knights’ offense and also served as recruiting coordinator.
In his three years at UCF, Godwin helped put the Golden Knights on the map with the nation’s fourth-ranked recruiting class in 2010 before following with a Top 20 class in 2011. He also helped lead the Knights back to NCAA Regional action in 2011 for the first time since 2004. Paced by First-Team All-Conference USA sluggers Jonathan Griffin and D.J. Hicks, UCF led the league in home runs, slugging percentage, hits, runs, RBI and doubles. In addition, his development of Beau Taylor, who batted .325 with five home runs and 47 RBI, earned him inclusion on the 2011 Johnny Bench Award Watch List.
In 2010, SEBaseball.com named Godwin C-USA Assistant Coach-of-the-Year as he played an integral role in the Knights’ school-record and C-USA-record .343 batting average. The squad also posted 78 home runs and a .538 slugging percentage, both school standards.
A five-year member of the baseball program at East Carolina, Godwin redshirted as a freshman before serving as a top catcher for the Pirates over the next four seasons. The three-year team co-captain started 126 games as a sophomore, junior and senior, earning All-East Region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association in his final season after batting .322 with 15 home runs and 45 RBI. The left-handed swinging Godwin also was a First-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection in 2001 after also delivering 14 doubles and drawing 23 walks in 57 games.
In addition to his on-the-field accomplishments, Godwin excelled in the classroom at ECU as a two-time Academic All-America selection – one of four Pirates to ever earn the distinguished honor. After being named to third-team status in 1999, he followed up with second-team accolades as a senior in 2001.
Godwin graduated magna cum laude from East Carolina in 2000 with a bachelor of science degree in management information systems, and after receiving the Pat Draughon Postgraduate Scholarship, went on to earn his MBA from ECU in 2002.
He helped former ECU skipper Keith LeClair’s teams win nearly 100 games more than they lost during his four seasons (169-76), including 46-plus wins in each of his final three years (46-16 in ’99, 46-18 in ’00 and 47-13 in ’01). His career totals with the Pirates included 24 home runs, 31 doubles and 95 RBI.
East Carolina won a pair CAA Tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Regionals every season from 1999 to 2001. The Pirates were the top seed in their regional all three years, including a No. 6 national seed in 2001 where they advanced to the Super Regional round before being eliminated by Tennessee. Godwin was named to the all-tournament team at the 2001 NCAA regional, hosted by ECU in Wilson.
“I could not be more excited than to have Cliff Godwin as the head coach for Pirate Baseball,” Compher said. “I understand the importance of baseball at ECU and in Eastern North Carolina, and I believe Cliff embodies all the qualities we were looking for in our next head coach. He knows about being a Pirate and what it means to be winner both on the field and in the classroom. His teams had great success under Coach Keith LeClair and Cliff had great success in the classroom as a two-time Academic All-American.
“He knows ECU and he knows what it takes to win at the highest level,” Compher added. “He has worked across the country at some of the best programs in the nation. I am confident he will have the high expectations for his teams and bring great energy and passion to East Carolina. I look forward to a packed Clark-LeClair Stadium and a bright future ahead.”
After finishing his collegiate career, Godwin spent two seasons playing professionally with the Gateway Grizzlies in the Frontier League before getting back into the coaching ranks as an assistant coach at Kinston High School in 2003. Since then, he continued to climb the coaching ranks with stops at UNC-Wilmington (2003-04), Vanderbilt (2004-05), Notre Dame (2005-06) and LSU (2006-08) before stays at UCF (2009-11) and Ole Miss (2011-14).
Godwin made immediate contributions in the dugout and in the batting cage, helping lead UNC Wilmington to the program’s first CAA championship and an appearance in the 2004 NCAA Regional Championship.
From there, Godwin moved to Vanderbilt where he served as the Commodores’ Director of Baseball Operations for two seasons before joining the Notre Dame staff as an assistant coach under then head coach Paul Manieri in 2005.
While in South Bend, the Fighting Irish posted a .313 batting average under Godwin’s tutelage and claimed the Big East Tournament title to go along with a berth in the NCAA Lexington Regional. He coached Craig Cooper to All-America and Big East Player-of-the-Year honors on the way to becoming a seventh-round draft pick.
Before to his stint at UCF, Godwin’s offense at LSU hit .306 in 2008 with 100 homers and 95 stolen bases. The squad recorded at least 10 runs in a game 20 times and sported a .509 slugging percentage. Towards the end of the season, including NCAA Tournament play, LSU posted a 23-game winning streak en route to a trip to Omaha.
A year earlier, Godwin helped build the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2007 for LSU according to Collegiate Baseball – a class which featured nine signees selected in that season’s MLB Draft.
In all, Godwin has worked with 44 players who have gone on to the professional ranks during his time as an assistant at the Division I level.
Godwin is the son of Kathy Dail and Lewis Godwin of Snow Hill.