Former Oregon State baseball coach Pat Casey, who won three national titles but retired with a complicated legacy, visited Baton Rouge and is a candidate to take over as LSU's next coach, a source confirmed to The Advocate.

D1Baseball.com first reported Wednesday that Casey had become LSU’s leading contender for the position.

LSU has not yet hired a replacement for Paul Mainieri, the 63-year-old coach who will retire at the end of this season, his 15th with the Tigers. LSU plays this weekend in the NCAA super regional at Tennessee.

Casey did not respond to a request for comment.

Casey, 62, compiled a 900-458-6 record over 24 years as Oregon State’s coach. He led the program to three national championships, 12 NCAA tournament berths and six College World Series appearances. Casey retired after Oregon State won the 2018 national championship.

Since then, Casey has worked as a senior associate athletic director and special assistant to Oregon State’s athletic director.

In an NBC Sports Northwest podcast late last month, Casey said: “There’s times I feel like I want to be in the dugout, and there’s times I’m thankful I’m not in the dugout.”

At the time of his retirement, Casey said he believed he didn’t have the same level of energy as before.

“I think it was the right time for me to walk away,” Casey said on the podcast, which was posted May 25. “Who knows? I don’t think that I’ll ever say that I’ll never coach again. I can just tell you I don’t go to bed at night thinking I should or I shouldn’t right now. But who knows.”

LSU sports news in your inbox

If you're a Tiger fan you won't want to miss this newsletter. Sign up today.

Eventually a five-time national coach of the year, Casey took over as Oregon State’s coach in 1995. His teams began to excel about 10 years later, and Casey reached the College World Series for the first time in 2005. Oregon State then won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.

While an accomplished coach, Casey drew criticism for the way he handled Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to one felony count of child molestation of his niece when he was 15 and she was 6.

Heimlich admitted so in a handwritten statement in an open juvenile courtroom in Washington state.

Heimlich later denied the accusation, saying in a 2018 Sports Illustrated story that he “accepted a plea deal only to avoid a trial and jail time and to keep his schooling and baseball on track.”

Heimlich's criminal record was supposed to remain sealed as part of the plea agreement, but a clerical error allowed The Oregonian/Oregon Live to discover the records when it searched his name in a public records database while conducting a routine background check about the star pitcher during the 2017 postseason.

Heimlich said, according to SI, he never discussed the matter with Casey until just before The Oregonian published its story.

After Heimlich withdrew from Oregon State’s College World Series roster, Casey said: “I can just tell you that he is a fine young man and every second that he’s been on this campus, on and off the field, he’s been a first-class individual, one that his family should be proud of, your community should be proud of, our team is proud of. I believe in Luke.”

Oregon State allowed Heimlich to return the next season and rejoin the baseball team, with support from Casey and then-president Ed Ray. Projected as a first- or second-round prospect before the legal matter came to light, Heimlich went undrafted and unsigned in 2018.

Casey retired that summer, shortly after his third national title.

Email Wilson Alexander at walexander@theadvocate.com