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News and notes on Purdue Athletics
Mark Wasikowski, an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the Universities of Oregon, Arizona, Florida as well as Southeast Missouri State during his career, was hired as the head coach of Purdue baseball in June 2016.
Wasikowski has played and coached in the College World Series. He helped lead teams to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances during a successful 20-year run as an assistant coach. He won an NCAA championship as the starting third baseman and a captain on Pepperdine's 1992 College World Series team.
Wasikowski (pronounced WOZ-uh-COW-ski) played for and worked under three-time national Coach of the Year Andy Lopez for a combined 18 years. He was part of Lopez's coaching staffs at both Florida (1998-2001) and Arizona (2001-11) before joining George Horton's staff at Oregon in the summer of 2011, spending five seasons with Horton in Eugene. Wasikowski was an assistant coach on Arizona's 2004 College World Series team, the same year that Horton led Cal State Fullerton to the national title.
Wasikowski led the Boilermakers to a 19-win improvement in his first season. It ranked as the greatest turnaround in program history and tops nationally entering the week of the conference tournaments around the country. Purdue returned to the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2012 after winning 10 more games in league play. Wasikowski's team joined the 2007 Boilermakers as the only Big Ten teams since 1988 to post a 10-win improvement in conference play. The four-year postseason drought had been the program's longest since 1988 to 1992.
Purdue posted a pair of seven-game win streaks in 2017 and recorded 10-plus victories in both March and April. The Boilermakers won seven weekend series after having only six such successful weekends from 2013 to 2016. Purdue was 8-3 in one-run games after having a 2-13 record in similar contests the year before. The Boilermakers' 18 true road wins were tied with Minnesota for the most in the Big Ten.
"During the hiring process, Mark's name immediately rose to the top of our candidate list," said Purdue senior associate athletics director Ed Howat, the sport supervisor for baseball. "He is exactly the type of person and coach we were looking for from the onset. He is a proven winner, who knows what it takes to build a championship program. He has worked for two renowned coaches, so he is well prepared. Additionally, he is a man of great character, who is committed not only to developing our young men as students and athletes, but also as quality people. We are excited to welcome Mark, his wife Lori Jo, and daughters, Joelle and Kelsey, to our Boilermaker family."
"I would like to thank director of athletics Morgan Burke and Ed Howat for the opportunity to become the head baseball coach at Purdue University," Wasikowski said. "I have been humbled to serve under great mentors in Mark Hogan, Andy Lopez and George Horton, and am now humbled again to serve such an elite university. There is much work to do but with the great Purdue leadership and resources, I am excited to lead Boilermaker baseball into a new era of success both on and off the field. Boiler up!"
Wasikowski was an assistant coach on teams that made 11 NCAA Regional appearances in the span of 13 seasons (2003-15), including six straight years from 2010 to 2015. Oregon qualified for the NCAA Tournament in four of his five years, hosting two Regionals and a 2012 Super Regional. When Lopez took over the Arizona program in 2001 with Wasikowski by his side, the Wildcats had been to one Regional in the last nine years. During Wasikowski's 10 years as an assistant in Tucson, Arizona qualified for the postseason seven times.
Wasikowski is the 20th head coach in Purdue's 130-year history, but only the Boilermakers' fourth full-time skipper since 1978.
Wasikowski has coached 120 players that have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, a list highlighted by 29 big leaguers. During his 10 seasons at Arizona, Wasikowski coached 59 Major League Baseball draft picks and 22 future big leaguers. As the recruiting coordinator, he assembled the Wildcats' 2012 national championship team, leaving for Oregon before the start of the 2011-12 school year. Oregon was one of only three teams nationally to win 40-plus games every year from 2012 to 2014. During his five seasons in Eugene, the Ducks had 23 players drafted. Oregon also had a perfect 1,000 APR score as recently as 2015.
"Mark exudes the presence of a winner," Burke said. "He knows the look and feel of a championship baseball program. We look forward to him bringing that successful pedigree to Purdue and helping current and future Boilermakers develop into winners on and off the diamond."
Early in his coaching career (1997-98), Wasikowski served as an assistant coach under Mark Hogan at Southeast Missouri and as the head coach of the El Dorado Broncos of the summer Jayhawk League. In 1998, he helped SEMO qualify for its first NCAA Regional appearance and later coached the Broncos to a national championship at the National Baseball Congress tournament in Wichita, Kansas. He was named the NBC Coach of the Year that summer.
Wasikowski's recruiting classes as an assistant were annually ranked among the top 25 nationally. As of 2016, six of his former players were active big leaguers. In his three seasons at Florida, he coached 29 draft picks and six future big leaguers. SEMO had two All-Americans and five draft picks in his two years in Cape Girardeau. Perfect Game named him among its national list of 10 assistants "ready to lead" in both 2012 and 2013.
Wasikowski was a two-time All-West Coast Conference honoree at Pepperdine after spending his first two collegiate seasons at Hawaii and Rancho Santiago Junior College. He was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1993 MLB Draft, but opted to remain at Pepperdine to finish his bachelor's degree in business administration while serving as a student assistant under Lopez during the 1994 season. He also has a master's of business administration from Southeast Missouri.
Wasikowski was inducted into the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame along with all of his teammates from the 1992 national championship team. He led the Waves in doubles as a junior and hits as a senior, guiding Pepperdine back to the NCAA Tournament in 1993.
Wasikowski and his wife, Lori Jo, are the parents of two daughters, Joelle and Kelsey.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT MARK WASIKOWSKI...
George Horton -- Head Coach at the University of Oregon
"I believe Mark Wasikowski is one of the brightest, up-and-coming baseball coaches in the country. There is no doubt that Mark will make a huge impact as the new leader at Purdue. We will miss Coach Waz and wish him great fortune."
Andy Lopez -- Former Head Coach at Pepperdine, Florida and Arizona; Two-Time NCAA Champion
"Mark Wasikowski is more than ready to be a successful head coach. He will not only establish a winning culture, but he and his family will be a great addition to Purdue University and the community."
Mark Hogan -- Head Coach at Southeast Missouri State From 1996 to 2012
"Mark is arguably the best recruiter in the country. He's going to be a tireless and energetic guy. His understanding of the inner workings of the game is off the charts, and they were that way almost 20 years ago when he was with me. What a great, great hire for Purdue. We are thrilled for Mark and his family."
Nick Hundley -- San Francisco Giants Catcher, 2005 All-American at Arizona
"I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd go to Arizona. I thought I was going to Stanford or Tulane when [Mark] started recruiting me. I felt like he cared more about me than anyone I talked to in the recruiting process. He out recruited every other school. My dad was a college football coach for 41 years, and he told me during the process that Arizona will get good players if I went there because [Mark] could recruit and get players in there. Then when I got to school, he was more concerned with me as a person than he was with my performance. He stayed on me about school and put together a three-year graduation plan so I could be done with school if I signed after my junior year. As a player, I left Arizona much better than when I arrived. He was very good at the mental part of the game and pushing us to get to places we didn't know we could go. I still talk to [Mark] about once every three months. He is very loyal, and I would trust his character to run my program."
Robert Refsnyder -- Cleveland Indians Infielder, 2012 College World Series MVP at Arizona
"I can't say enough about [Mark]. He was a diligent recruiter and true competitor. I have the upmost respect for him. He's a family man and a family coach. If you give your all as a player, he will give you everything he's got. Love that guy!"
Trevor Crowe -- 2005 First Round MLB Draft Pick, 2005 All-American at Arizona
"My experience with Coach Waz at the University of Arizona was an important part of my development as a baseball player, but was more important to my development as a human being. I hope my child has the chance to develop as a baseball player and a man under the leadership of a man like Coach Waz."