Aug. 31, 2011
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Missouri softball head coach Ehren Earleywine has agreed to a seven-year contract extension, as announced Wednesday by Director of Athletics Mike Alden. The contract will keep Earleywine as head coach of the Tiger softball program through the 2018 season, and he becomes the first head coach of an Olympic sport at Missouri to get a contract extension of greater than five years.
"Ehren is undoubtedly one of the best coaches in the country," said Alden. "His commitment to what we stand for at Mizzou certainly represents our brand, and we're looking forward to continued success from our softball program under Ehren's leadership for many years to come."
In five seasons at Missouri, Earleywine has the best winning percentage in program history (.760), while his 241 wins are second-most amongst Tiger softball head coaches. For his career, Earleywine has put together a .747 winning percentage, the eighth-highest amongst active NCAA Division I head softball coaches. He has led the Missouri program to three consecutive Women's College World Series appearances, with the 2011 squad finishing in sixth in the final rankings, the highest the program has ever finished a season.
"My family and I are truly thankful for this new extension, as it allows us peace of mind and security for the next seven years," Earleywine said. "You have to credit our administration, and in particular Tim Hickman and Mike Alden. They know I don't want to coach anywhere else and could probably get me for less money, however, they have continued to be proactive and fair throughout all my contract upgrades over the past five years. I will repay them with many championships in the years to come."
Earleywine's teams have improved every year since he took over in 2007, where they won 40 games and made the NCAA Regionals, helping the Tiger coach to win Big 12 Coach of the Year honors. In 2008, the Tigers went 47-17 and won the program's first regional title in 14 years. Missouri enjoyed their first 50-win season in program history in 2009, along with a Big 12 Tournament Championship, while advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1991. In 2010, the program eclipsed the 50-win mark again, winning 51 contests while again moving on to the World Series. The Tigers clinched their fifth World Series bid in program history on their home field, as Mizzou played host to the NCAA Super Regional round for the first time ever. In 2011, Earleywine was named Big 12 Coach of the Year again, as his Missouri Tigers won the Big 12 regular season title for the first time since 1997, once again hosted the NCAA Regional and Super Regionals and captured the program's first win at the WCWS since 1991.
"Ehren Earleywine is the best college softball coach in the country, evidenced by the number and level of other schools that have approached him the last two years to coach their programs," said Tim Hickman, Senior Associate Athletic Director. "Coach Earleywine wants to be at Missouri as much as we want him here. We are excited that the Board of Curators agreed to secure his services for the next seven years."
Under Earleywine, Missouri's softball has reached new heights both athletically and academically. During his tenure at Missouri, Earleywine has coached seven players to All-America status and has had 27 All-Big 12 selections. Last year, Chelsea Thomas became the first Missouri player to finish as one of three finalists for USA Softball's National Player of the Year award, while becoming the program's first Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. In his five years, 40 student-athletes have been named to the Academic All-Big 12 team, which includes 10 selections in 2011, the most in the conference. In the latest APR rankings, the program led the Big 12 with a near-perfect score of 997 (out of 1000).
"I have been, and always will be, thankful for the job I have at Missouri," stated Earleywine. "There are probably better coaches than me here at Mizzou, but I'm not sure there's anyone who wants to be here more than myself."
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