WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- UPDATE: Wichita State confirms report and releases the following statement:
“Following an evaluation of our baseball program, it is time to have a change in our leadership,” Athletic Director Darron Boatright said. “We move forward with our same program expectations; to compete at the highest level nationally and in the American Athletic Conference. I thank Coach Butler and Melissa for their six years of service to Wichita State University.”
Butler recently completed his sixth season as head coach at Wichita State with a season-ending loss to UConn in the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
In six seasons at Wichita State, Butler went 169-180-1.
He had one year remaining on his original seven-year contract that was signed in June of 2013.
Assistant coaches Sammy Esposito and Mike Pelfrey and Director of Operations Scott Gurss will remain with the program until the end of their contracts on June 30.
Wichita State has begun an immediate search for its next head coach.
Sources close to Wichita State tell Eyewitness Sports Todd Butler is expected to be relieved of his coaching duties, after six years with the program. Butler signed a seven-year $300,000 contract to replace Gene Stephenson in August of 2013.
The Shockers fell short of expectations for another season, finishing 9-15 in conference play and needing one final series win to lock in the 8th seed of the AAC Tournament. Wichita State missed the postseason for the sixth straight year, each season under Butler.
After 2018, both Wichita State Athletic Director Darron Boatright and Todd Butler evaluated the program and determined the team was improving each season, despite overcoming a recruiting battle. Butler estimated he was behind two years in recruiting when he took over the program back in 2014. His second recruiting class boasted two first-round draft picks in Alec Bohm and Greyson Jenista.
The other main goal was to create the buzz around WSU baseball that existed during the height of the Stephenson era. Unfortunately, that did not happen during the last years of Butler’s tenure.
The average attendance in 2018 fell to 2,083 fans, the lowest attendance since 1998, according to the Wichita Eagle. The average attendance in 2019 fell even more drastically. Only an average of 1,825 fans showed up each game to cheer on Shocker baseball, an understandable figure when you understand this starved fanbase.
No replacement has been named at this time, however the biggest name floating around is former Wichita State Shocker Kevin Hooper. The All-Missouri Valley infielder led Wichita State in batting average at .402 in 1999. Hooper was drafted in the 8th round of the 1999 draft by the Florida Marlins, but made his major league debut for the Detroit Tigers in July 2005. The Lawrence, Kansas-native signed with the Wichita Wingnuts in 2008 and was named the manager the following season through 2016.