For years, Kansas baseball coach Ritch Price has seemingly been on the hot seat, only to come up with a strong season or two just as the fans start calling for a change. This season, fans were certainly back to calling for a change after Price's squad went 20-35 (.364 winning %), including an embarrassing 30-3 loss (yeah, that's not a typo) to TCU on May 14th.
Today, we found out that Kansas will not be firing the long time fixture in the program, as he instead announced his retirement. There have been no reports that Price was pushed to retire to avoid a firing, but it does seem reasonable that it could been suggested behind the scenes. Price just wrapped up his 20th season in Lawrence, with a career winning percentage of .509, going 581-558-3 across his tenure. It's a winning record, so it would be unfair to classify Price as a failure of any sort, but under his guidance, the team's high water marks just never got very high. NCAA Tournament berths were a rarity, with Price's Jayhawks making it only 3 times out of KU's 11 winning seasons in the last 20 years.
With a lack of consistency and tournament runs, but generally staying near or above .500, Price always seemed to be doing just well enough for the Jayhawks' various athletic directors to keep him in place. Given how poorly this season went, in combination with KU's last Tournament appearance coming all the way back in 2014, Price's seat was perhaps the hottest it had ever been. Price is 67 years old, and in total has spent 44 of those years in coaching baseball. With how much of his life he'd devoted to coaching the Jayhawks, a retirement scenario like this feels much better as a fan than seeing him sacked for poor performance.
AD Travis Goff will now begin a search for Price's successor. Kansas has little history of success in the sport, and in general schools in warm weather states, not the midwest, have taken over college baseball. Between the location and lack of prestige, Goff will likely be looking at a pool of candidates made up of assistants looking for their first head coaching gig, or the skipper at a smaller school who's had success. At this time, Goff has not given a firm timeline for when he hopes to have a new hire in place.
There were some pretty rocky times in the last 20 years, with no shortage of frustration, but Price still gave about a third of his life to date, and half his career, to leading Kansas baseball. So for that, I'd just like to thank Price for his many years as a Jayhawk, and hope there's enough talent will remain the squad for his eventual replacement to hit the ground running.