FAYETTEVILLE — Wichita State announced Arkansas assistant Todd Butler as its new head baseball coach on Sunday.
Butler was tabbed to replace long-time coach Gene Stephenson, who was fired earlier this month after his 36th season with the program. Butler, 46, was to be formally introduced as the Shockers’ new coach during a press conference Monday.
“(Today) will be the greatest day in my 23 years of coaching,” Butler said in a Wichita State news release. “The opportunity to be the next head coach of the Wichita State Shockers, a storied program with tradition, a national championship and continuous seasons of greatness is a blessing.
“The program has great former players, fantastic fans and a great University and community behind it. I look forward to replicating and building upon the great program that Gene Stephenson built, and also look forward to getting back to the glory days.”
Butler moves into the Wichita State job after spending eight seasons on Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn’s staff (2006-2013). Butler agreed to a seven-year contract that will pay him $300,000 plus bonuses, according to the Wichita Eagle.
He worked as Arkansas’ hitting coach and recruiting coordinator during his tenure with the Razorbacks. Butler also was elevated to associate head coach last summer after interviewing for an assistant coaching position at Texas.
“I want to congratulate Todd Butler on becoming the head baseball coach at Wichita State,” Van Horn said Sunday. “Todd was a valuable member of our coaching staff over the last eight years, helping to keep our program among the nation’s elite, and is deserving of this opportunity to advance his coaching career. There’s no doubt in my mind that Todd will be extremely successful as the head coach at Wichita State. I wish nothing but the best for Todd, (his wife) Melissa and the entire Butler family.”
Butler, who is regarded as one of the nation’s best recruiters, becomes a college head coach for the second time in his career. His first stint came at McNeese State from 2001-03, where he went 90-83 and led the team to an NCAA Regional.
Butler also worked as an assistant at Alabama from 1995-2000 and 2004-05.
Arkansas’ best offensive season with Butler as hitting coach came in 2010, when the Razorbacks finished with a .306 batting average and hit a school-record 92 home runs. The Razorbacks haven’t been able to match the production the past few seasons, though, largely because of bat modifications and a recruiting philosophy that stressed pitching. Arkansas hit .271 in 2012 and .260 in 2013.
The Razorbacks have had five signing classes rated in the top 10 by recruiting services during Butler’s tenure, while 57 players were drafted. Arkansas also made two College World Series appearances with Butler on Van Horn’s staff.
“Todd is highly regarded as a baseball coach, brings a passion for baseball and success, and has a wonderful family,” Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton said. “He brings a resume worthy of the success Wichita State is accustomed.
“I look forward to watching his teams compete on the field and his student-athletes excel in the classroom.”