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WICHITA, Kansas — Wichita State University officially introduced its new head baseball coach in a news conference Monday afternoon.
Todd Butler replaces Gene Stephenson who was fired two weeks ago after 36 years with the Shockers.
Replacing Stephenson was no easy task, but Eric Sexton, the athletic director for WSU believes Butler can do it.
Butler says he was recruited by Stephenson in 1986 and he says it’s not about being better than the former coach. It’s about building on the greatness of the program that Stephenson started.
“It’s a blessing to me,” said Butler. “All of his hard work, a tremendous effort to build a program like this from nothing with no baseballs or facilities and to have an opportunity, I mean, this is life, you know. He’s done a wonderful thing here. He’s a friend of mine that I’ve known since 1986. He’s a great coach and I’m very honored and humbled to have this opportunity for all the hard work of the community, the university, Gene Stephenson, Brent Kemnitz, JT and all the great players of this program. It’s an honor.”
Butler has 23 years of coaching experience. Most recently he was associate head coach at the University of Arkansas from 2005 to 2013.
He has 16 years as an assistant coach in the SEC. During that time, he helped guide teams to five College World Series appearances and 17 NCAA Regionals.
The last time Butler was a head coach was back in 2001 at McNeese State in Louisiana, where he spent three seasons and took the Cowboys to the 2003 Southland Conference Tournament Championship for the first time in 10 years.
Butler’s credentials far exceeded Sexton’s expectations, but others are pleased, too.
“It’s a situation where I’m excited to work with Todd Butler,” said Kemnitz, WSU pitching coach. “We match up with philosophies. We have the same passion. I think we complement each other well and I’m open to new ideas. I think it’s going to be a blast.”
“It’s kind of hard to go off anything other than his track record and his track record is great,” said Cale Elam, WSU pitcher. “I know he’s got a lot of energy and he’s really going to shake some things up and get us going so I think that will be really good for the program coming off of where we’ve been.”