Saint Leo, Fla. (June 23, 2008) – Saint Leo University Director of Athletics Francis X. Reidy announced the appointment of Russ McNickle as the new head baseball coach for the Lions. McNickle previously served as assistant coach at Mississippi State University, and will become the 14th coach in program history.
"Saint Leo University is very excited to have Russ McNickle as our new baseball coach,” Reidy said. “This search included many outstanding candidates, but in the end Russ' baseball experience, commitment to the total student-athlete and his outstanding character elevated him to the top of the list. Russ was able to articulate a vision not only for our baseball program's future, but was able to do this in a manner that connected with our University's Core Values into his overall plan."
McNickle has a strong coaching resume on a variety of levels of collegiate baseball over the past 19 seasons. During his time at Mississippi State the Bulldogs won an SEC Tournament Championship (2005), and made three NCAA regional tournament appearances (2004, 2005 & 2006). Mississippi State also won the Super Regional title and reached the College World Series in 2007.
“I want to thank Dr. Kirk, Fran Reidy and his staff for this opportunity,” McNickle said. “This is a wonderful time for me and my family. We are excited about being a part of the Saint Leo University family and more importantly, the honor and the responsibility of being the Lions’ Head Baseball Coach. I understand the challenges of coaching and competing in the Sunshine State Conference, the best DII conference in the country. We want to make the Lions’ baseball program one that people around the country will respect and one that student-athletes will want to be a part of.”
The Mobile, Ala., native began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at Mississippi State University in 1989 and 1990. The Bulldogs advanced to NCAA tournament competition both seasons, winning a share of the 1990 SEC Tournament championship in Hoover, Ala., before advancing to the prestigious NCAA College World Series in Omaha.
McNickle coached the next 10 seasons in Florida with a two-year stint (1991-92) as an assistant to Dr. Roger Martinsen at Central Florida Community College in Ocala. In 1993 he joined the staff at Sunshine State Conference foe Florida Southern College. During a six-year term (1993-1998), McNickle helped direct the Moccasins to a 265-84 mark, five NCAA post-season appearances, three Sunshine State Conference titles and a pair of berths in the NCAA Division II College World Series. Florida Southern won the National Title at the 1995 CWS in Montgomery, Ala., after claiming runner-up honors in 1994. 15 FSC players earned All-American status, two earned ABCA National Player of the Year honors and 28 players were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft.
His coaching career continued at the University of South Florida, where he served as pitching coach and top assistant in 1999 and 2000. Following the 2000 campaign, McNickle returned to Mississippi, this time as head coach at Meridian Community College. His 2001 MCC Eagles club posted a 38-16 record and claimed the Miss-Lou Conference championship.
McNickle’s resume also includes past summer collegiate baseball league coaching stints in both the Cape Cod League and the Valley Baseball League. He’s also made numerous appearances at clinics and summer baseball camps.
McNickle earned All-State honors during his prep baseball career at Mobile Christian High School. He continued his playing career at Patrick Henry State Junior College in Monroeville, Ala., in 1984 and 1985 before earning his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Alabama in 1988. He earned his Master’s degree from Mississippi State University in 1990.
McNickle, who directed the Mississippi State baseball team’s weekly devotional, was honored prior to the 2005 SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Ala., as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Coach of the Year.
"Russ' successful experience at various levels, especially at Florida Southern during one of its national championship runs, has provided him with a solid foundation of winning baseball,” Reidy stated. “Russ’ familiarity with a national recruiting base, and a working knowledge of our conference, should also allow him to make a quick and smooth transition."
McNickle and his wife, Robin, have a son, Trey (15), and one daughter, Jordan (11).
RUSS MCNICKLE CAREER COACHING HISTORY
MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY - ASSISTANT BASEBALL COACH
2008, 23-33, SEC Western Division Participant
2007, 38-22, Regional and Super Regional Champions – College World Series
2006, 37-23, NCAA Regional Tournament #3 Seed
2005, 42-22, SEC Tournament Champions – NCAA Regional Tournament #2 Seed
2004, 35-24, NCAA Regional Tournament #3 Seed
2003, 42-20, SEC Tournament – NCAA Regional Tournament #1 Seed
2002, 34-24, SEC Tournament
Totals, 251-168, .600 Winning Percentage
MERIDIAN COMMUNITY COLLEGE – HEAD BASEBALL COACH
2001, 38-17, Miss/Lou Champions – Regional Tournament #1 Seed (.690 Winning Percentage)
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA – HEAD ASSISTANT BASEBALL COACH
2000, 29-29, Conference USA Tournament
1999, 31-27, Conference USA Tournament
Totals, 60-56, .517 Winning Percentage
FLORIDA SOUTHERN COLLEGE – HEAD ASSISTANT BASEBALL COACH
1998, 37-21, Sunshine State Conference Champions – Regional Tournament
1997, 44-12, Sunshine State Conference Runner Up – Regional Runner Up
1996, 44-14, Sunshine State Conference Champions – Regional Tournament
1995, 51-10, National Champions – Regional Champions – SSC Champions
1994, 51-12, National Runner Up – Regional Champions – SSC Champions
1993, 38-15, SSC Runner Up
Totals, 265-84, .760 Winning Percentage
CENTRAL FLORIDA COMMUNITY COLLEGE – ASSISTANT BASEBALL COACH
1992, 34-17, 3rd place finish in Mid-Florida Conference
1991, 32-15, Mid-Florida Conference Champions – Florida State Tournament
Totals, 66-32, .673 Winning Percentage
MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY – GRADUATE ASSISTANT BASEBALL COACH
1990, 50-21, SEC Tournament Champions – College World Series Participant
1989, 54-14, SEC Champions – Regional Runner Up
Totals, 104-35, .748 Winning Percentage