June 21, 2007
From UTSports.com: Raleigh Named Tennessee Baseball Coach
Cullowhee, N.C. - Todd Raleigh, the second winningest head coach in Western Carolina baseball history, has accepted the head coaching position at the University of Tennessee it was announced today in a press conference held in Knoxville. The search for his successor at WCU will begin immediately.
Raleigh, a two-time Southern Conference Coach of the Year (2002, 2007), was the ninth head baseball coach at Western Carolina since 1969. He led his alma mater to two conference regular season championships, a SoCon tournament title in 2003 and finished among the SoCon top three, five times. His squads twice reached the finals of an NCAA regional, finishing as the runner-up in the Wilson regional in 2003 and again this year in the Chapel Hill regional. He amassed 30-or-more victories in six of his eight seasons, twice eclipsing the 40-win plateau.
"Todd has been an outstanding member of the Western Carolina athletic department. His accomplishments and those of his teams, both on and off the field, have brought a great deal of recognition to the University," said WCU Athletics Director, Chip Smith. "An excellent coach, he understands and emphasizes the importance of academics to his student-athletes. Athletically, he has the program on solid footing and poised for success."
Smith added, "After the end of the past baseball season, Todd and I talked about our plans for the future of Catamount Baseball, including extending his contract at WCU. Upon becoming involved as a candidate at the University of Tennessee, he continually kept me informed on the progress of the search, and I appreciate his professionalism throughout the process. While this will be a loss to the entire athletic department, we wish him the very best in this new opportunity. Todd and his family have been very active and involved members of the community and we will miss them all."
Raleigh, who was a three-time All-SoCon selection for the Catamounts from 1988-91, followed in a lineage of former players as head coaches over the past 16 years in Cullowhee. Each of the last three skippers - the late Keith LeClair (1992-97), Rodney Hennon (1998-99) and Raleigh (2000-2007) - each played under Western's all-time leader in career victories, Jack Leggett (1983-91), who had 302 wins in Cullowhee and surpassed the career 1,000-win mark this year at Clemson.
Raleigh surpassed his former teammate and mentor, LeClair, for second place on Western's all-time career wins chart earlier this year with a 7-3 home win over The Citadel (Mar. 30, 2007). He leaves Cullowhee with 257 wins, 45 behind Leggett.
"It is a bittersweet day in Cullowhee," said Western Carolina Chancellor, John W. Bardo. "We are proud that Todd Raleigh's accomplishments as a coach who cares about his players and their performance both on the diamond and in the classroom have made him one of the most sought-after young baseball coaches in America. We are happy and excited to see one of our alumni advance in his chosen career. But we also hate to lose such a hard-working and highly respected member of the Catamount family."
After enduring a 15-38 season in his head coaching debut in 2000, Raleigh directed the biggest single-season turnaround in SoCon history at 14.5 games in '01, leading Western to a 30-26 overall record and a third-place finish in the league.
Student-athletes found success both on and off the field under the tutelage of Raleigh as three players garnered SoCon Player of the Year accolades, including Kenny Smith most recently this season, with 24 earning All-SoCon honors. He also had six players named ABCA All-Atlantic Region, five SoCon Home Run Champions and total of 11 players drafted by the Major Leagues with a school-record tying five tabbed this season.
Raleigh also served as a driving force behind numerous facility improvements to Western's Ronnie G. Childress Field at Hennon Stadium. During his head coaching tenure, the facility had its playing surface and locker room redone, new lights were installed and a famed "Purple Monster" was erected rising as tall as 20 feet in left field.