Murray State Director of Athletics Allen Ward announced today that Rob McDonald will not return for his 12th season as Head Coach of the Murray State baseball team.
“This was a very difficult decision as I think the world of Rob and his family,” said Ward. “He’s a class act and I appreciate his service and dedication to the University”.
“In my time here, I’ve made a point to be patient with the sport of baseball due to the fact that the program wasn’t at a level financially where I felt noticeable and sustainable improvement should be expected. But, we’ve come to a point in my evaluation where I believe a change will help the program generate the type of momentum and energy it needs to be more competitive in the OVC while also positioning the program to realize success with its fundraising initiatives for facility upgrades.”
McDonald closes out his tenure with an overall record of 247-347-2, and a 123-160-2 mark in Ohio Valley Conference games. His most successful season came in 2009, when he led the Breds to a 34-27-1 record on his way to being named OVC Coach of the Year.
McDonald coached the only three All-Americans in history of MSU baseball. In 2009, pitcher Daniel Calhoun became the first All-America in school history, while Wes Cunningham followed in 2010. Infielder Brandon Elliott was named a Freshman All-America following the 2010 season.
A search for the new head coach will begin immediately.
Ward also announced that beginning in the 2014-15, the baseball team, currently known as the “Breds”, will join the rest of the Murray State teams and be identified as the Racers.
“Across the country, we’re known as the Racers. It’s a unique nickname that has developed a very strong brand identity over the years,” said Ward. “From a recruiting perspective, it’s imperative that Baseball begin taking advantage of that recognition. And from an overall program outlook, baseball will now enjoy the benefits that are being afforded other teams that identify as Racers. This change will have a significant and positive impact for the baseball program in the areas of marketing, licensing, media relations, merchandising, social media, and brand identity.”
“It was important that I engage a number of key stakeholders as it relates to the name change, and I did that,” said Ward. “Everyone I spoke with, including team leaders, recognized the potential benefits of the change. Each made it clear that the most important consideration was their desire to see progress with the baseball program. If being known as Racers will benefit the sport, they were all for it. It was all about Murray State and that was encouraging. ”
“For the few programs across the country that have a specific team with a different nickname, there is usually a very strong brand identity already associated with the name that it provides immediate and lasting benefit. In our case, from what I heard over and over again, being called Breds often lacks that relatable quality and causes confusion on a number of fronts. It also detaches the sport, although unintentionally, from the rest of the Murray State identity.”
In a statement, McDonald said quote: "I am appreciative of the opportunity to coach baseball at Murray State, a school and a program I love.I am proud of the young men we have coached.I am proud of our accomplishments.There is no doubt; Murray State got more for their money with regard to our program than any program I know of.I wish we could have won more games – it wasn’t for lack of effort.However, I will always be proud of the efforts on and off the field of our young men and my staff – past and present."