Ray Anderson executed the first big hire of his tenure as Arizona State athletic director , bringing on Indiana's Tracy Smith to become the next head coach of the Sun Devil baseball program. He was very confident that he made the right decision.
"We couldn't be more delighted to have Tracy Smith join the family here," Anderson said. "I think he's the highest quality we could have hoped for he's everything we wanted in terms of being a leader with passion."
Smith was named the National Coach of the Year by both the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and collegebaseballinsider.com in 2013. After struggling in Bloomington in his first several seasons, Smith led the Hoosiers to an NCAA regional appearance in 2009 and then Big Ten regular season and tournament titles in 2013. The 2013 season culminated in a College World Series appearance for the Hoosiers.
"The thing we were very impressed with was that in a difficult baseball environment, Tracy was able to attract quality young men and then turn them into pro-caliber baseball players," Anderson said.
The Kentland, Indiana native played three seasons in the Chicago Cubs minor league system and was the head coach of Miami University for nine seasons. Smith also played a large role in fundraising efforts for Indiana's Bart Kaufman Field which was completed in time for the 2013 season. It's an experience that should help the Sun Devils transition from Packard Stadium to Phoenix Municipal Stadium next season.
"We think we're going to do quite well at Muni and somebody with Tracy's caliber in terms of just coaching was certainly a big plus," Anderson said. "They (Indiana) were good to him but at the end of the day he knew it was a great opportunity and quite frankly to the credit of the athletic director and the president there they also knew that this was a unique opportunity, so they did not stand in his way and wished him the best luck coming to ASU."
Smith coached 19 MLB draft picks in the last six seasons including three first rounders in 2009, and one freshman All-American in each of his last six seasons as well. Anderson mentioned that the reputation of Arizona State baseball helped in the coaching search.
"Fortunately we did have leverage because this is Arizona State University, one of the top programs in the country," Anderson said. "There are high expectations but I think he also realizes the very high reward potential. He knows he can come here and compete consistently for national championships and he couldn't resist that."