Tennessee fires Raleigh after 4 seasons

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee fired baseball coach Todd Raleigh on Monday after he failed to lead the Volunteers to a single Southeastern Conference tournament or NCAA tournament in his four seasons.

The move came two days after Tennessee wrapped up its 2011 season with a 25-29 overall record and a 7-23 Southeastern Conference record. The Vols went 108-113 in his four seasons at Tennessee from 2008-11.

Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton, who has received a lot of criticism from fans for the problematic tenures and ultimate departures of football coach Lane Kiffin and basketball coach Bruce Pearl, hired Raleigh in June 2007 after firing Rod Delmonico.

“We feel our baseball program, unfortunately, has not made the progress on the field that it should have over the last four years,” Hamilton said in a statement. “We believe a change in leadership is necessary in order to move the program forward. We appreciate Todd’s efforts and wish him the best in all future endeavors.”

Tennessee had reached the College World Series three times in Delmonico’s 18 seasons but had become inconsistent in postseason play toward the end of his tenure. Raleigh was hired after eight years as head coach of Western Carolina, during which his clubs won two regular-season Southern Conference championships and one Southern Conference tournament title.

Raleigh inherited problems with the Vols’ NCAA Academic Progress Rate, which has improved during his tenure. The Vols’ record did not fare the same, though, as they suffered series sweeps by LSU, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida this season alone.

The baseball team was also named in the NCAA’s sweeping investigation of Tennessee athletics but ultimately not charged with any wrongdoing.

“Thank the university, especially the players, some assistant coaches and some players’ families for their support (during) my time here at the university,” Raleigh told The Knoxville News Sentinel. “Faced a lot of obstacles, APR, player turnover, which we tried to overcome in a tough environment in the best baseball conference in the country. As many of you know, there have been a lot of dynamic moving issues with UT athletics. Look forward to moving on and continuing coaching.”

Raleigh had one year remaining on his contract and will be receive $331,657.53 over the next year as a buyout, which covers a year of salary and broadcast and shoe and apparel compensation.

Hamilton said that a national search for his successor will begin immediately.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

The Associated Press