ISU's Kingston hired as USF baseball coach
Illinois State coach Mark Kingston, a two-time Missouri Valley Conference coach of the year and assistant on Miami's 2001 national title team, will be formally introduced Saturday as USF's sixth baseball coach.
Widely deemed one of the nation's top recruiters and talent developers, Kingston agreed to a six-year deal that will pay him $140,000 annually, USF spokesman Brian Siegrist said. He replaces Lelo Prado, who was reassigned to an administrative role in the athletic department after eight seasons and no postseason berths.
Kingston, 44, beat out no fewer than three-dozen other applicants for the job. USF also reached out to University of Tampa coach Joe Urso, whose 54-4 club lost its bid for a second consecutive Division II national title last week.
“There was a tremendous amount of interest in our baseball head coaching position from across the country, and Mark clearly rose to the top," athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement released by the school.
"He is one of the best young coaches in collegiate baseball today and has a tremendous background of competing and winning at the highest level. He is a very compelling leader for our baseball program.”
Kingston was believed to be the front-runner for the vacancy at Tulane, where he spent seven years as an assistant, but canceled a reported planned interview with Green Wave officials Tuesday, according to the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate.
A former North Carolina first baseman and member of the Tar Heels' 1989 College World Series team, Kingston compiled a 173-102 record in five seasons at ISU. His Redbirds teams won more than 30 games each year, including a school-record 39 in 2013, with two of them capturing MVC regular season championships.
His '10 club won the conference tournament title and the program's first NCAA Tournament game since 1976.
In all, he has helped lead nine teams to the NCAA Tournament as either an assistant or head coach. At Tulane, he helped lead the Green Wave to a pair of Super Regionals and the 2005 CWS. In six of his seven years as the team's recruiting coordinator, Tulane's signing classes were ranked among the top 25 nationally.
“I can’t wait to get started," Kingston said in the release. "We have unbelievable facilities, great support and the building blocks in place to be a championship program at USF. I know from my experience at Miami how great baseball is in Florida and I’m excited to return.”
Kingston, who was drafted by the Yankees out of Potomac (Va.) High but opted for college, inherits a roster that featured only three seniors this past season.
Two or three juniors and/or 21-year-olds could be taken in this week's Major League Baseball first-year player draft, but Friday night ace Jimmy Herget -- a first-team All-American Athletic Conference pick -- returns.