ASU Baseball: Ray Anderson seeks strong leader and passion in new coach

ASU Athletics

Ray Anderson is hoping to find a passionate new baseball coach that can lead the program back to the elite of college baseball.

Ray Anderson has been a busy man since taking over as Arizona State's Vice President of Athletics in February. He has since hired two coaches (wrestling and gymnastics) and is currently overseeing fundraising for a stadium renovation project.

Well, add one more task to the list. Arizona State announced Monday morning that head baseball coach Tim Esmay has resigned his position.

"It's always a difficult day when you have to make a move like this regarding someone that you like and respect," Anderson said Monday afternoon. "We accepted coach Esmay's resignation as our baseball coach and we will commence a vigorous search immediately."

Esmay was named Arizona State's interim coach in December of 2009 and in February of 2010 was named the full-time head coach. He made the postseason four times in five seasons as head coach, with the exception being 2012 when the team was ineligible.

However, the Sun Devils have failed to reach the super regionals the past three seasons and have not reached the College World Series since 2010, and that is simply not good enough by this program's standards, Anderson said.

"We want to be at a higher level, we expect to be at a higher level and we should be at a higher level," Anderson said. "The new head of our baseball program will be someone who is driven and dedicated to be elite in all facets their responsibilities here."

Elite is the perfect word to describe the Arizona State baseball program and it is perhaps the only sport at Arizona State that can be considered elite. The Sun Devils have reached the College World Series 22 times, which is the third most of any program in college baseball.

Arizona State has won five national championships, which is the fourth most of any program. Baseball royalty such as Barry Bonds and Reggie Jackson once called Tempe home.

From 2007-10, the Sun Devils hosted four super regionals and reached the College World Series three times. The program is one of the best at producing major league talent, with recent alumni including Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Mike Leake, Ike Davis and Cole Calhoun.

With Arizona State's move to Phoenix Municipal Stadium next year, it seems like as good a time as any for a change in command.

"Phoenix Muni is perceived as a potential boost, an opportunity to reset and have a fresh start," Anderson said. "New leadership of this baseball program will hopefully be able to plug right into that enthusiasm and that fresh start. And we will be off to a better road of championship baseball around here."

According to Anderson, the search has already begun for Esmay's replacement. Although he did not discuss a timetable for a hire, Anderson said he isn't afraid to look outside the box for the best candidate.

"It is going to be an exhaustive search and quite frankly, it is not going to be limited," Anderson said. "We won't necessarily be limited to looking at current collegiate coaches. We think this is one of the top four or five elite programs in the nation for college baseball.

"We want to see real, strong leadership. We want to see energy, we want to see a culture of passion for the sport," Anderson said about the ideal candidate. "Certainly passion for the student-athlete experience is crucial. Real drive on the academics is going to be really critical."

One thing is for sure, there will be no summer vacation for Ray Anderson. He has his most important hire to date to make in the coming weeks. However long it takes, Anderson is determined to get his guy.

"We will do what we have to do and what we need to do to bring in the best people for these positions because they are critically important to our student-athletes and our institution."

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