ASU Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson announced on Tuesday that ASU baseball head coach Tracy Smith will be returning as head coach in 2019.
The Sun Devils just wrapped their second consecutive losing season, the first time in school history the program has had back-to-back losing seasons.
“We understand, we get, the passion for ASU baseball,” Anderson said. “No one has lost sight of the fact that baseball matters around here…I get it. We all want ASU baseball to be at an elite level. We are staying the course because we believe that Tracy Smith has the plan, that he’s shared with us, that will get us there.”
The big thing that Anderson stressed was keeping Smith on board because of his success with recruiting.
ASU had the top recruiting class in the Pac-12, the fourth best in the nation, according to Baseball America, in 2017. The year prior, the Sun Devils had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, according to Collegiate Baseball.
“When we look at our plan for ASU baseball, we are very, very enthusiastic about Tracy’s job, and this staffs’ job in recruiting,” Anderson said. “It’s not coincidental that five or six or sometimes seven freshmen started in our lineup.”
ASU signed nine players from the class of 2018 during the early signing period in November. Seven of those players who have signed are pitchers, which addresses an area where improvement is immensely needed for the Sun Devils.
“When you have a coach like Tracy Smith who has recruited at a very high level, we are not going to disrupt a recruiting class for this year, nor are we going to disrupt the chemistry developing, in our view, between freshmen and sophomores in a locker room where the culture needed to be changed and it’s evolving in a very positive way,” Anderson said.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) September 14, 2017
When asked if he had spoken to players regarding Smith’s status, Anderson said he had not, but he was getting a strong consensus from the players’ parents that they wanted to keep Smith around.
“I heard from some of the parents of some of the players to please stay the course, because the improvement in the locker room, the camaraderie amongst these teammates, we are close,” Anderson said of the messages parents were giving him about Smith. “‘We trust you to make the right decision, but do know that we think Tracy has got this thing going in the right direction, Mr. Anderson, please be patient.'”
As for Smith’s status beyond 2019, Anderson did not directly address it, but repeatedly said that there will need to be “significant improvement for sustained success” in Smith’s next season at the helm.
“We’re looking to build a long-term, successful program that will go way beyond and compete consistently at the championship level,” Anderson said. “We’re going to try to stay the course with Tracy. We all know 2019 is a big year. We expect and anticipate significant improvement so that we’ll get this program to competing at a level that they used to compete at before 1981, championship level.”