COLLEGE BASEBALL

Steve Owens named Rutgers head baseball coach

Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs has named Steve Owens the 13th head coach in Rutgers University baseball history. An 11-time conference coach of the year who has mentored 22 All-Americans and 49 professional players, Owens brings 28 winning seasons of head coaching experience to Piscataway, including the past nine at Bryant University. His 914-483-3 career record features 20 30-win seasons, five 40-win seasons and 13 NCAA Tournament appearances.

"Steve has a remarkable record of achievement," Hobbs said. "His level of sustained success is among the nation's best. He now brings that formula to Rutgers and the Big Ten. Steve's great at developing student-athletes and putting them on a path to success, both on and off the field. We have a rich history and Steve will write the next great chapter for Rutgers baseball. I'm delighted to welcome him, his wife Catharine and his family to our family."

"I would first like to thank Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs, Ryan Pisarri and the other members of the search committee for selecting me as the newest leader of the baseball program," Owens said. "I am honored to have the opportunity to work in a program with such rich history and tradition. I believe my vision for the program is consistent with the department's strategic priorities of student-athlete excellence, cultural excellence and sustaining long-term excellence. I am looking forward to meeting the players and recruits, and starting to build the relationship and trust necessary to succeed. We will have talented athletes who will work hard, compete to win and play with Jersey toughness and grit. Our immediate goal is to establish ourselves as a consistent contender in the Big Ten. In addition, we aspire to be a top team in our region of the country, consistently develop professional players and work toward postseason opportunities."

Owens took over the Bryant program for the 2011 season and earned 327 wins at the helm, an average of 36.3 victories per year, the most victories among Northeast programs during that span. The Bulldogs went 192-59 (.765) in NEC play with eight-straight regular-season crowns and three tournament titles, being the No. 1 seed all seven trips to the conference tournament.

The program, which became eligible for NCAA postseason competition in 2013 after its transition to Division I in 2009, made a splash with an upset over Arkansas at the 2013 Manhattan (Kan.) Regional. That season was sparked by a 19-game winning streak, the longest in the nation. The team returned to the NCAA Tournament the following season with an appearance at the 2014 Baton Rouge (La.) Regional. In 2016, Bryant won a school-record 47 games, emerged in the national rankings as high as No. 15, had the highest winning percentage in the nation (.797) and became the first NEC school to earn a No. 2 seed at the NCAA Tournament with a trip to the Charlottesville (Va.) Regional.

Owens, who has been a collegiate head coach since 1992 with 1,400 games under his belt, ranks among the top 20 active Division I coaches in winning percentage (.654) and in overall wins (914). He has picked up 71 of those victories in postseason play with a 71-48 mark (.600).

Owens earned five NEC Coach of the Year awards (2012, '13, '14, '16, '19) and claimed ABCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year honors in 2013 and 2014. Additionally, 64 players garnered all-conference honors and 13 collected All-America honors in his nine seasons piloting the Rhode Island school. Owens also successfully recruited the NEC Rookie of the Year seven times and produced 18 MLB Draft picks over the last seven seasons.

Most recently in 2019, Owens led Bryant to a 40-win season, winning 12-of-14 weekend series and pacing the nation with 23 road wins during the regular season. Propelled by the bats, the Bulldogs set school and NEC records for home runs (81), hits (679), RBIs (455) and runs scored (487). The 8.1 runs per game ranked ninth nationally, placing seventh in batting average (.311), 13th in home runs per game (1.35) and 15th in on-base percentage (.398). Bryant also set school and NEC records for strikeouts with 501 on the mound. The Bulldogs had eight earn All-NEC honors and 10 more garner All-New England honors, while Chris Wright and Steve Theetge, a 2019 Gold Glove winner, both picked up All-America distinction. Owens also saw three members of his class of 2020 recruiting class selected in the first 22 rounds of the MLB Draft.

Prior to coming to Bryant, Owens spent 11 seasons (2000-10) as the head coach at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. He led the Dolphins to 11-straight winning seasons and three NCAA tournament berths. He guided Le Moyne to back-to-back NCAA Regionals at Arkansas (2003) and North Carolina State (2004), and then took the Dolphins to the Texas A&M Regional in 2007. Over his tenure, Owens was named the MAAC Coach of the Year twice, (2004, '06) and was also bestowed the ABCA/Diamond Northeast Region Coach of the Year in 2003. Owens reached an even more impressive milestone during the 2007 season as he became one of the youngest coaches in the country to reach the 500-win plateau. He finished his Dolphins career with an impressive 342-217 record, as the program amassed 32 All-MAAC selections.

A native of Sauquoit, New York, Owens started his head coaching career at Division III Cortland State. Over eight seasons (1992-99) in the dugout, Owens led the Red Dragons to six 30-win seasons, seven NCAA regional tournaments and four trips to the Division III College World Series. He guided the 1997 and 1998 teams to third-place finishes at the national tournament, finishing a game short of a shot at a national championship. Owens went 245-82-1 in his eight seasons with Cortland State and was named the New York Regional Coach of the Year and the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Coach of the Year four times each.

In addition, Owens has mentored 10 Freshman All-America picks, 36 All-Region nods and four Academic All-Americans as a head coach.

Owens is a 1987 graduate of St. Lawrence University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in sport and leisure studies. Playing baseball and football at St. Lawrence, he was named a two-time MVP in baseball playing at both third base and shortstop. He finished his career with a .349 batting average, including .454 as a senior, and stole 73 bases in 80 attempts. In football, he led the team in rushing his junior and senior seasons, scoring 18 career touchdowns, and was named offensive MVP as well as Outstanding Senior Athlete. He has been inducted into the St. Lawrence Athletic Hall of Fame (Fall 2010), the Cortland State Hall of Fame (Fall 2017) and the Greater Utica Hall of Fame (June 2019).

Drafted by the Chicago Cubs as a third baseman, Owens spent two seasons with the organization, including stints in Geneva (New York-Penn League champions) and with the Charleston (W.Va.) Cubs in the South Atlantic League.

Following his playing days, Owens began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in football and baseball at Ithaca College, where he received a Master of Science degree in 1991.

Owens, 53, and his wife, Catharine, have three children, Jack, Sam and Jane.

Rutgers athletics


June 26, 2019