Thomas Announces Retirement From Bears Baseball Staff
May 9, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri State University assistant coach Brent Thomas has announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of the 2014 season after 32 years on the Bears' baseball staff. Thomas, who has served MSU continuously since 1980 when he first arrived on campus as a student-athlete, will officially relinquish his duties June 30.
Thomas has served on head coach Keith Guttin's staff since the current dean of Missouri Valley Conference head baseball coaches took over in 1983, helping the Bears compile a 1,084-700 record, including seven regular-season conference championships and eight conference tournament titles. Thomas has served as MSU's first base coach and hitting instructor for all eight of the Bears' trips to NCAA Regional play, including the program's first Division I College World Series appearance in 2003.
One of the most experienced assistants at the Division I level, Friday's MVC series opener at Indiana State will mark Thomas's 1,851st in a Bears' uniform. A native of Marshfield, Mo., Thomas joined Guttin's staff immediately following his own two-year playing career at Missouri State. He hit .380 for head coach Bill Rowe's unbeaten MIAA Southern Division championship team in 1981, before batting .352 and playing a pivotal role on MSU's 1982 team which advanced to the NCAA's Division II College World Series.
Overall, the Bears have won nearly 61 percent of their games, averaging over 34 victories a year and racking up eight 40-win seasons during Thomas's tenure, which, coupled with his two years as a student-athlete, represents the longest continuous stretch of service for any current Missouri State coach or athletics administrator.
"I don't think our institution could ask for a more loyal guy," Guttin stated. "Brent has given countless hours, always putting the team and the University first and himself second. It has always been about the players and never about himself."
Under Thomas's tutelage, the Bears have established numerous program standards for offense, including national statistical championships for team batting (.367) in 1983, and for both home runs (144) and slugging percentage (.626) in 1999. Additionally, a pair of Bears have earned Division I individual statistical crowns, with Steve Hacker leading the country in homers and slugging in 1995, before Matt Cepicky led the country in homers, RBIs and runs scored in 1999.
Since Thomas joined the MSU staff, 19 different Bears have garnered All-America recognition, while MSU has racked up 73 first-team all-conference selections. Additionally, 108 Bears have signed professional contracts, including four first-round draft picks and 14 players who have advanced to the Major Leagues.
Thomas's departure will mark the first adjustment to the full-time baseball staff since 1988, when assistant coach Paul Evans assumed his current role as the Bears' pitching coach.
"Brent has been a tremendous asset to our university and baseball staff," MSU Director of Athletics Kyle Moats said. "It's rare to have a staff stay in place for such an extended period of time, and he's had a tremendous impact on the lives of countless student-athletes and fellow athletics staffers over the years. His loyalty to Coach Guttin and our University will be forever remembered and appreciated. We wish Coach Thomas and his family all the best."
A search for Thomas's replacement will commence immediately.