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WSU fires baseball coach Marbut after 11 seasons

Marbut had a 314-304 record in 11 seasons at WSU. (WSU photo)
Marbut had a 314-304 record in 11 seasons at WSU. (WSU photo)

PULLMAN – Donnie Marbut’s decade as skipper of the Washington State baseball program ended on Tuesday, when athletic director Bill Moos fired him.

“Though Donnie and his staff have worked hard over the past 11 years it is my feeling that a change in leadership at this time was necessary to get Cougar baseball back to a position of prominence,” Moos said in a statement.

Marbut received a contract extension after the 2014 season and the Cougars finished the 2015 season, which ended on Sunday, with a 29-27 record, 11-19 against Pac-12 competition, to finish above .500 for the first time since 2010. Because he still has a year remaining on his contract, WSU is likely still on the hook for a buyout of approximately $170,000.

While Marbut was initially successful after taking the reins of the program in 2005, guiding the Cougars to postseason appearances in 2009 and 2010, the second half of his tenure at WSU was rocky.

The Cougars finished just one game shy of a .500 conference record last season, but lost eight players who did not leave school early to pursue professional careers.

Known as a relentless recruiter that would routinely visit high school prospects in person rather than sending assistants, Marbut also made his mark as a fundraiser while at WSU.

In a Spokesman-Review story that ran on Sunday, the former WSU coach was critical of WSU’s baseball facilities and expressed frustration that more has not been done to build a baseball clubhouse adjacent to Bailey-Brayton Field.

Marbut ends his WSU coaching career with a 314-304 record, the first overall winning record for a Cougar baseball coach since recently departed Chuck “Bobo” Brayton, who coached from 1962-1994.

Historically, the baseball program at WSU has been strong and the Cougars have made 16 NCAA tournament appearances. Comparatively, the football and men’s basketball programs have appeared in a combined 17 bowl games and NCAA tournaments.

But the Cougars have not had sustained success since Brayton retired, and in recent years nearby rivals Oregon, Oregon State and Washington have all devoted far more financial resources to their respective baseball programs than WSU has.

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