Pat Casey looked like a man forced into stepping away from a game that had consumed most of his life when he somewhat begrudgingly announced he was stepping down as Oregon State’s baseball coach last September.
Throughout his press conference, there was a sense that he wasn’t anywhere close to 100 percent committed to hanging the cleats up and stepping away from the diamond for good.
And while that may still be the case, Casey won’t be leading the Beavers any time soon.
After nine months to reflect on the decision, the coach who walked off the TD Ameritrade Park field with his third national title last June has decided not to return to the Beavers.
Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes, who said he wanted to give Casey time to think about his decision and “an open path where he could return as head coach, announced late Tuesday afternoon that Casey had decided not to return.
Casey, who was part of MLB Network’s draft coverage on Monday when his former player, Adley Rutschman, was the first overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles, returned to Corvallis Tuesday and met with his former staff to give them the news before the school issued a statement he would not return.
“Pat still loves this university and everything about it,” Barnes said on a conference call Tuesday evening. “Obviously over the course of nine months, many conversations and requests for him to come back. It progressed to the point here more recently, the past several days, that the writing was on the wall.”
Oregon State has already posted the job opening, and interim coach Pat Bailey, who guided the Beavers to a 36-20-1 record and the No. 16 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, has expressed interest.
Pitching coach Nate Yeskie, Barnes said, had not as of Tuesday afternoon. Yeskie has been with the program since 2009; Bailey since 2008.
"I compliment the job that coach Bailey has done this year under difficult circumstances,” Barnes said in a statement. “The roster has been depleted with injuries from the very start of the season after losing three MLB first-round draft picks from last year’s national championship club. Coach Bailey and his coaching staff have done a remarkable job.”
Bailey has been a head coach 13 years and compiled a 389-178-1 record, including winning the NAIA national title in 2004 while at George Fox.
Barnes said a national search will take place and he hopes to have someone in place in the next couple weeks, if not sooner.
He said there has already been plenty of interest in the position.
“It’s a great job, it’s one of the best jobs in America and we are fortunate to be in a situation we are because of Pat Casey’s leadership and certainly the stewardship and leadership that Pat Bailey has had this past year,” Barnes said. “We’re looking forward to continuing to move this program forward at a high level.”
If someone currently outside the program gets the nod, they will be able to bring on their own staff, something that would be tough to see for many fans of the program as Bailey, Yeskie and Andy Jenkins have all been mainstays and have been big reasons for the Beavers’ success.
“We need to give whoever that is the opportunity and flexibility to build their staff,” Barnes said. “In all my years in this business I’ve never required a candidate to hire certain folks. But I will be a huge advocate for the staff that we have.”
The Beavers aren’t alone as two other Pac-12 teams — USC and Oregon — are in search of a new head coach. Washington State has already filled its vacant position after relieving former OSU assistant Marty Lees of his duties.
That adds a little bit more of a sense of urgency and may condense the hiring process some, Barnes said, “but we want to do that in a way that we continue to be thorough in finding the right individual. So, yes, there is because of the market place and because of recruiting and the whole picture. We will move as expeditiously as we can.”
Casey, who will remain in his current role as a Senior Associate Athletic Director where Barnes says he has been “a wonderful ambassador” and has helped in fundraising and a mentor to the coaches, won’t be part of the selection committee but rather a consultant.
Barnes said the person who ultimately gets the position will be of impeccable character and integrity, have a strong work ethic, be a leader that inspires and has the ability to evaluate, recruit and develop players.
“What’s the vision to continue what has been achieved here,” Barnes said. “Continue to grow and have success in the program.”