Maryland has hired Kansas State Associate Head Coach John Szefc to be the Terrapins’ head baseball coach, the school has confirmed.
Known for his hitting expertise, Szefc comes to College Park after two seasons at Kansas State and two seasons at Kansas. He also served seven seasons (1996-2002) as the head coach at Marist, where he posted a 212-137-1 (60.6 percent) record and claimed four Northeast Conference titles.
Szefc replaces Erik Bakich, who left last month after three seasons to take the same position at Michigan. This past season, Bakich had led the Terrapins (32-24) to their second-highest win total in program history.
Maryland has not earned an NCAA tournament berth or won an ACC title since 1971, though the Terrapins had demonstrated consistent improvement during Bakich’s tenure. In a telephone interview earlier this month, Bakich said he expected Maryland’s baseball program to continue its recent rise.
However, he noted that “in order to grow the program from being competitive at the bottom of the ACC to advancing to being competitive perennially in the middle of the ACC and ultimately at the top of the ACC, I think it’s no secret that anyone who comes to our facility and sees the amenities and the resources knows that there’s a lot of needs.”
In steps Szefc, who likely will have to operate with a stagnant budget for at least the near future. The Maryland athletic department recently cut seven varsity programs in the face of a multimillion-dollar budget deficit and needed a $1.2 million university loan to reconcile its budget shortfall this past year.
Athletic Director Kevin Anderson has said there is a strategic plan in place to balance the department’s $57.7 million budget by 2015, but such a goal will require that Maryland’s costs remain inert.
Szefc, who has coached on eight teams that have advanced to the NCAA tournament during his 23-year career, has roots in the East Coast. Originally from Middletown, N.Y., Szefc played as an outfielder for two years at Connecticut before transferring to Drexel, where he graduated in 1989.
He has coached 60 players that either were drafted or signed professional contracts since 1997, according to his biography on Kansas State’s athletics Web site.