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Brian O'connor Named Head Baseball Coach At Virginia

July 8, 2003-- Brian O'Connor, the associate head baseball coach at the University of Notre Dame for the last two years and a member of the Irish coaching staff for the last nine years, is the new head baseball coach at the University of Virginia. UVa Athletic Director Craig Littlepage made the announcement today.

"Brian O'Connor will bring energy and enthusiasm to our baseball program, and a great understanding of the landscape in college baseball," Littlepage said. "He will hit the ground running and make an immediate impact in all aspects of our program. Notre Dame is one of the country's most admired baseball programs. The experience Coach O'Connor gained in helping build Notre Dame's program will be instrumental in developing a plan to move the University of Virginia's baseballprogram forward."

O'Connor was named the 2001 national assistant coach of the year as selected by the American Baseball Coaches Association and Baseball America. He worked with Notre Dame's pitchers during his time on the Irish coaching staff and was the program's recruiting coordinator from 1995-2002. As Notre Dame's recruiting coordinator, he led the effort that landed a nine-member group ranked by Baseball America as the nation's top incoming class for the 2002 season.

O'Connor has tutored 17 eventual professional baseball pitchers, including 13 Major League Baseball draft selections. Two of his Notre Dame pitchers were first round selections and both of them - Brad Lidge (Houston Astros) and Aaron Heilman (New York Mets) - are now in the major leagues.

"To be the head baseball coach at the University of Virginia is a tremendous honor and opportunity," O'Connor said. "The combination of one of the premier athletic departments in the nation, school tradition and excellence in academics was very attractive to me. I'm extremely excited about the opportunity at Virginia for my family and me.

"The direct attention Craig Littlepage gave to this search was very impressive. His efforts in finding the right fit for the University of Virginia showed me the commitment that exists to the baseball program. I took this job with the goal of Virginia becoming a consistent winning program. Under Craig Littlepage's leadership, we will work to make the experience for the student-athletes, fans, supporters and the Charlottesville community one of which we will all be proud."

During O'Connor's nine years at Notre Dame, the Irish compiled an overall record of 399-160-1 (.713), won six conference championships and made six trips to the NCAA Tournament. The last three Notre Dame baseball teams have been among the most successful in the school's history. The Irish compiled an overall record of 45-18 in 2003, won the Big East Conference Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In 2002, Notre Dame had an overall record of 50-18, won the Big East Championship and advanced to the College World Series. The 2001 Irish team was 49-13-1, ranked number one in the nation at midseason and participated in the NCAA Tournament.

"I look back at my nine years at the University of Notre Dame with very special memories," O'Connor said. "The experience of working with great people and outstanding student-athletes has allowed me to grow as a person and a coach at the highest level of collegiate baseball. My tenure at Notre Dame has prepared me to succeed in the Atlantic Coast Conference as the head coach at the University of Virginia. It's now time for me to focus my enthusiasm and energy on our program at Virginia.

"I'm very passionate about developing student-athletes while creating an exciting, winning environment. I look forward to meeting with the players and sharing with them my vision for the future of this baseball program."

The 32-year-old O'Connor is a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and a 1993 graduate of Creighton University. As a pitcher on the Creighton baseball team, he posted a 20-13 career record with seven saves and a 3.78 earned run average. He was a member of the Blue Jays' 1991 College World Series team.

After graduating from Creighton with a bachelor's degree in marketing, O'Connor was selected in the 29th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He posted a 4-2 record with a 4.03 earned run average for Martinsville (Va.) of the Appalachian Class A League in 1993 before accepting a position as pitching coach at Creighton.

O'Connor is married to the former Cindy Petratis and they have two daughters, Ellie and Maggie. O'Connor replaces Dennis Womack who retired as the head baseball coach at Virginia in June after 23 years in the position. Womack is now an assistant athletic director in the UVa athletic department.

Contact: Rich Murray, (434) 982-5500

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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Last Modified: Friday, 11-Jul-2003 09:37:19 EDT
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