Brad Hill, the most successful baseball coach in Kansas State history, will step down at the end of the season, the school announced Tuesday.
Hill will depart K-State after 15 years in which he guided the Wildcats to unprecedented heights, including 463 victories, four NCAA Tournament appearances, one Super Regional and a Big 12 championship.
But the team has been on a steady decline since 2013, when the Wildcats nearly reached the College World Series and K-State rewarded Hill with a five-year contract extension. They have not played in a NCAA regional since and are currently in last place of the Big 12 standings with an overall record of 18-29 and a conference mark of 3-18.
“It’s come time for the program to move in a new direction and regain the energy it once had,” Hill said in a statement released by K-State, “and with the new facility on the horizon, now is the perfect time. My family and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a special place and we now look forward to the next chapter in our lives.”
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A national search for a new baseball coach will begin immediately, giving new K-State athletic director Gene Taylor the opportunity to hire his first coach since arriving in Manhattan little more than a year ago.
“Coach Hill has provided an unwavering commitment to our baseball program for 15 years and advanced it to an unprecedented level with our first-ever conference championship and multiple NCAA Regional appearances,” Taylor said in a statement. “He has given so much to K-State, building our program to a championship level in a first-class manner with the utmost integrity. I admire and appreciate all he and his family have done for K-State and wish them nothing but the best. We look forward to honoring him the remainder of the season."
The Wildcats still have seven games remaining this year. They next host a three-game series against Kansas this weekend.
Hill will hope to go out with a bang, for himself, his team and K-State baseball fans.
“I can’t thank enough the great people of K-State and Manhattan who gave us a chance to be successful here," Hill said, "notably Tim Weiser (former K-State A.D.) and Casey Scott (executive associate A.D.) who hired me and placed their trust in me to lead this program. My deepest gratitude goes out to all the tremendous coaches and support staff who worked tirelessly, in particular Sean McCann, Tom Myers and Scott Bird who started with me in 2004 and helped establish our program."
“And I especially want to thank all the players who contributed to the rise of this program with their commitment and hard work, guys that built the foundation in my first seasons here, to those that took it to new heights that included a Big 12 title and a Super Regional and to the present players. So many guys have their fingerprints on this program, there are too many to name. K-State is a special place, and I look forward to seeing the program get back to where it needs to be under new leadership."
Hill arrived at K-State in 2004 and took over for longtime coach Mike Clark, whom he passed last season for the most coaching wins in program history.
The Wildcats immediately began taking steps forward and posted winning records in seven of Hill's first eight seasons after K-State had just one winning season between 1998 and 2003.
In 2009, he led the Wildcats to a then-record 43 victories and the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance. He went on to guide the team to three more postseason berths over the next four seasons, culminating in 45 victories and a Super Regional in 2013.
He was twice chosen Big 12 Coach of the Year and helped 46 K-State players get selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
But Hill was unable to continue his success during the past five seasons. Since 2013, K-State has failed to win more than 29 games in a single year and has twice missed the Big 12 Tournament as the conference's last-place team.
A sharp downturn in 2014, which ended with a 25-30 record, was a sign of the struggles to come.