Tulane’s first baseball coaching search in more than 20 years is starting to take shape.
Eleven days after Rick Jones announced his retirement following 21 years on the job, the Green Wave is scheduled to interview at least two candidates vying to replace the most successful coach in program history.
Sources told The Advocate on Monday that Illinois State head coach Mark Kingston and Tulane assistant/interim coach Jake Gautreau are expected to meet with Athletic Director Rick Dickson on Tuesday.
They are not the only candidates expected to interview for the position. Tulane hired coaching headhunter Jeff Schimmel to bring in interested parties; he has been working with Dickson and new chief operating officer Barbara Burke to pare down the list.
Kingston and Gautreau have extensive connections to the Green Wave.
Kingston spent seven seasons as Jones’ recruiting coordinator and hitting coach (2002-08), and he was promoted to associate head coach during his final five seasons in New Orleans. Over that span, Tulane reached six NCAA tournament regionals, two super regionals and the 2005 College World Series as the No. 1 overall seed.
Since his departure from Tulane, Kingston has been named Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year twice (2010, ’13), won MVC championships in those years and reached the NCAA tournament. He interviewed for recently filled head coaching positions at Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Kingston interviewed earlier in the week with fellow American Athletic Conference member South Florida, which moved former coach Lelo Prado into its senior administrative staff after eight seasons with the Bulls.
Gautreau also has interviewed elsewhere. Last week, he travelled to Ruston to speak with Louisiana Tech about its open head coach position.
The Green Wave’s interim coach and former All-America third baseman returned to Tulane to become hitting coach in 2010. Two seasons later, he was named recruiting coordinator. He filled in when Jones was unable to return this past season due to a blood pressure and cardiovascular issue.
In Jones’ absence, Tulane struggled to a 13-19 finish and was 10th in Conference USA, missing the league’s tournament. Following the season, Gautreau openly expressed his desire to take the position full-time.
Now the decision will lie in Dickson’s hands.
“You want to move quickly, but you also balance that with making sure you make the right hire,” Dickson said last week. “Historically, this is one of our strongest programs. That and going into a new league make it very important for us.”