(MCT) — Longtime Southern Illinois University Edwardsville baseball coach Gary "Bo" Collins is stepping down from his position to accept a new athletic department job in fundraising.
The 64-year-old Collins, who coached the Cougars for the past 34 years, has been named SIUE's first director of development for intercollegiate athletics.
"I am excited to have Gary lead our development efforts," SIUE Director of Athletics Dr. Brad Hewitt said in a release. "We have been very successful working together during my 22 years at SIUE. Gary has relationships with alumni and friends of Cougar athletics that garner him instant credibility with our prospects and current donors.
"I am confident he will bring many of our ongoing development activities to a successful fruition."
No immediate successor was named as SIUE's new head baseball coach, but Collins said current associate head coach Tony Stoecklin has been named acting head coach.
Stoecklin is a former SIUE standout pitcher who also pitched in the minor leagues. He's been coaching at SIUE for 12 years and in recent years has handled the majority of the recruiting duties.
"I certainly supported him, he's done an awful lot for me the last 12 years and seven of those he was part-time," Collins said. "He's certainly deserving of an opportunity. He's done all the recruiting the last five or six years, pretty much all of it. That was another thing I won't miss."
Former Edwardsville High and Wichita State slugger Danny Jackson just finished his second year as a Cougar assistant coach.
Collins' baseball teams compiled a record of 1,028-766-7, making him the winningest coach in the history of the school. He closed out his career helping transition the Cougars into the Division I ranks over the past three seasons.
"It was my decision, although a lot of people kept telling me it was time," Collins joked when asked about his decision to step down as coach. "I can't do this forever and I ought to get out at some point. The thought was going through that transition (to Division I) was not easy and there's another opportunity for me to be involved.
"The only thing that was good to the end was being around the guys."
Collins guided SIUE to five Division II College World Series appearances and 14 regional appearances.
Hewitt said Collins will report directly to Patrick Hundley, SIUE's Vice Chancellor for University Relations, and also to Hewitt indirectly.
In 44 years while affiliated with the university, Collins has coached baseball for 34 years and also played two sports at SIUE. He also served as an assistant baseball coach, an NCAA compliance officer and a development associate.
Among his playing highlights was being the first SIUE athlete to sign a professional contract, doing so in 1969 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
As a coach, Collins collected his 1,000th victory with a 5-1 win over Eastern Kentucky on May 20, 2011.
"The whole 34 years was a great ride, a great time," he said. "I don't have any complaints. I wouldn't single any one player or team out, there were a bunch of really outstanding teams and really outstanding players."
SIUE was 27-28 this season, which proved to be Collins' finale.
"I've gone into the last two or three years thinking it could be the last," he said. "We had a good year this year and I won my first game and won my last game. Everything in between was just gravy."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.
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