Tulane’s Jones named Coach of the Year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2005

NEW ORLEANS — After completing a record-setting year, his 12th, at the helm of the Tulane Baseball program, Green Wave head coach Rick Jones has been named the sport’s National Coach of the Year by Baseball America Magazine, the publication announced Thursday.

Jones was named the Conference USA and Louisiana Coach of the Year earlier this spring, and was also named the league’s Coach of the Decade. His selection as Baseball America’s top mentor marks the second time in his coaching career that Jones has been named a National Coach of the Year as he earned the NAIA National award after leading Elon College to the NAIA World Series in 1989.

“This is an honor that is very gratifying and one that I accept on behalf of our players and staff,” Jones said. “It’s a direct reflection on the work our coaches have done in recruiting and our players have done on the field, more so than on me.”

In 2005, the Bennett, N.C., native led Tulane to its second College World Series berth, a school-record tying 56 wins and the Conference USA regular season and co-tournament titles. The Green Wave, which earned the No. 1 preseason ranking from Baseball America and spent all but three weeks of the season atop at least one major poll, entered postseason play as the national No. 1 seed. Tulane won the New Orleans Regional in three straight games, then claimed victory in a three-game Super Regional series over Rice to advance to the CWS for the second time in the last five years and for the second time in school history.

Under Jones, Tulane has made eight straight NCAA postseason appearances and 10 in his 12-year tenure with the Wave. His record at the school is 523-237-1 for a winning percentage of .688, while his career mark stands at 799-330-2 (.707). Jones’ Tulane teams have won 40 or more games in a season nine times and he has led the Green Wave to four Conference USA regular season championships and five league tournament titles in the highly improving Conference USA.

With four selections in the Top 12 rounds of the 2005 Major League Draft, Jones has sent 37 players to professional baseball and has coached four first round selections (including 2005 first round choice Brian Bogusevic) and a sandwich pick.

In addition to their on-the-field prowess, Jones’ teams have had remarkable success in the classroom, even compiling a team GPA above 3.0 during the 2005 spring semester. Four Green Wave players, including 2005 All-American Tommy Manzella, have been named Academic All-America honors, with Manzella joining James Jurries as the only two student-athletes in Tulane history to earn athletic and academic All-America recognition in the same year.

Jones’ ability to build the Green Wave program has resulted in unprecedented fan support for the baseball team. Tulane drew a school record 145,084 fans to its home games this season, averaging a record 3,720 fans. Construction on a $6 million renovation of Turchin Stadium, the on-campus home of the Green Wave, is underway with completion scheduled for the start of the 2006 season.