USF is at a crossroads with its baseball program. They have a great coach in Mark Kingston, but they’re not quite good enough to retain him based on the program’s prestige. And he’s starting to look around:
Heard USF coach Mark Kingston was on campus at Virginia Tech yesterday. A top candidate for the head coaching job.— Michael Lananna (@mlananna) June 7, 2017
The solution? Pay the man.
Look at how Kingston’s salary compares to the other coaches in the league.(Cincinnati is currently without a coach after Ty Neal resigned during the conference tournament.) Kingston is the lowest paid coach (that we have data on) in the American. He makes around $140,000 a year, it goes up slightly every season.
|Cincinnati||Ty Neal (resigned)||$125,000|
|Tulane||Travis Jewett||N/A-Private University|
Kingston has turned around the baseball program in short order. In his first season, USF made the 2015 NCAA Tournament, their first appearance in 13 years. Then he did it again this year with practically a new team, save for SS Kevin Merrell, DH Luke Borders, and a few others.
He can recruit with the best of them, as evidenced by his top five recruiting class in 2015. (Five of his recruits were drafted, but they all elected to sign with USF.) That 2015 class included LHPs Shane McClanahan and Andrew Perez, 3B David Villar, 2B Coco Montes, 1B Joe Genord, C Tyler Dietrich, and outfielders Chris Chatfield, Cam Montgomery and Garrett Zech. All of them were major contributors this year.
It’s time for Mark Harlan to pay Kingston like one of the best coaches in the conference, or he will almost assuredly lose him to a bigger school. The department is admittedly a bit cash-strapped at the moment, what with having to pay three basketball coaches and a football coach who shall not be named. Luckily, Willie Taggart pretty much coached for free last year, and Charlie Strong is heavily subsidized for two years, which gives the department some money to give to Kingston. I’m not suggesting breaking the bank for him, but make the raise enough that he knows the school loves him and doesn’t want him to go anywhere.
The school needs to keep good coaches to have any shot of getting out of conference purgatory. It’s why they extended women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez when much bigger schools came sniffing around.
Every coach in the conference has done their part to make their salary and have in turn made The American an ultra-competitive baseball league. ECU’s Cliff Godwin received a $90,000 raise this year. Then add in the $55,000 he got this year for “marketing payments,” and he earned more in bonuses than what Kingston did in all of 2017. Godwin has earned his paycheck. We all saw it in Clearwater with the perfect “swing away for two pitches then drop down a suicide bunt” play that beat the Bulls.
Kingston has more than does his part to raise the profile of the league. Fortunately there’s probably only three jobs Kingston would leave USF for regardless of a raise: Texas (former Tulane head coach David Pierce just took over), Miami (where he won a College World Series title as an assistant) and UNC (where he played in college). Outside of that, you could convince me Kingston becomes the Ken Eriksen for baseball.
That’s a good thing.