Athletic Director Gives Update on Baseball Head Coach Search


Chayce Matheny

Joe Carbone and AD Christian Spears

Chayce Matheny, Sports Editor

A former graduate assistant to  legendary baseball head coach, Jack Cook, will help lead the university to find its next baseball head coach, Athletic Director Christian Spears announced at his first “State of the Herd” press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Joe Carbone, a former Ohio University baseball coach is helping the Athletic Department as a special advisor in the search for a new baseball coach for Marshall. Jack Cook spent over 20 seasons with the Herd with a record of 422-344-3.

Carbone’s job will be to evaluate the coaching staff, current players and the overall baseball program.

Spears said Carbone will also have a voice in the decisions made surrounding the new baseball stadium.

“He’s going to ensure that, as we build this baseball stadium without a current head coach in place, we make great baseball decisions, having done that previously at Ohio University,” Spears said. “We have to honor Jack Cook as we build this baseball stadium, so I wanted someone connected to Jack to ensure that happens.”

Carbone said he’s happy to be a part of this journey.

“It’s an exciting time,” he said. “The baseball stadium is going to be very attractive for a new head coach coming in. If I was an assistant and I’m coming to a school like Marshall University and I see there is going to be a brand-new baseball stadium, I don’t think you could ask for much more. We have no more excuses after that.”

Spears added that Charles Huff, Marshall’s head football coach, will also work with them to help find a new baseball coach.

“I actually asked Coach Huff to be a part of that process as well,” Spears said. “I want to ensure that a current head coach helps us vet the candidate pool in a meaningful way. I got a lot of confidence in Coach Huff to do that. So, together we’ll review all of the applicants and make a great decision.”

Spears also gave his reasoning for the firing of long-time baseball coach Jeff Waggoner, who spent 16 seasons with the program.

“There can be difficult decisions when you work in college athletics,” Spears said. “Sometimes you have to make transitions that might not be received in the best light, or you decided that the experience our student-athletes are having-If that’s what’s going to be paramount, then needs to be the thing. So, you make a decision to move on from a leader, and that you hope that you will go find somebody new that can re-energize and connect to the student-athlete experience that we want to have here.”

Spears said he had seven months to evaluate Marshall’s baseball program.

“It’s about the totality of the circumstances we inherited with this process,” he said. “I had about seven months to evaluate the program and determined that our student-athletes weren’t having the kind of experience that I would hope for. Every single student needs to have a remarkable experience here.”

Spears went on to say, “We want head coaches that connect meaningfully to the people that are associated with our program. We want head coaches that connect with our community. We want head coaches to understand their purpose and what they are here to do. So, we are going to go find someone that embodies those things and, most importantly, ensures that our student-athletes have a remarkable experience, and I think we can do that.”

Spears wants to have a new baseball head coach announced by Jan. 1

“We’ll try to have a head baseball coach here announced by Jan. 1 and hopefully here soon after that,” he said.

Spears added that Marshall athletics is trending upward.

“We are a sleeping giant. Marshall athletics is special, and we are about to embark on building a brand-new baseball field,” he said. “I think we can attract a person to come to Marshall to lead our baseball program in a new facility and in a new league.”

Spears said the funding for the stadium happened because of legendary Marshall football head coach Bob Pruett who spent nine seasons with the Herd from 1996 to 2004. 

“At Brad Smith’s investiture, ironically, we sat beside Coach Pruett, and the whole time coach was telling me, ‘Hey, you could do this’ or ‘You could that’ and ‘What if we ask for help here?’ and I’m just so thankful for him,” Spears said. “There is a grant process through the state; we followed that process and submitted our paperwork.”

Spears provided some details as to what the athletic department said on the application.

“Let’s build a baseball stadium with lights. Let’s engage the community. Let’s do a summer ball team. How can this be good for economic development? How do we connect the community? What kind of things does the city of Huntington need? Are we the right size to go out and attract these kinds of opportunities to host things in a great city? And that’s the story we told,” Spears said. “And if it hadn’t been for Coach Pruett, I don’t know if I would’ve figured it all out, so I just got so much respect for him.”