After a season in which the Washington State Cougars won just 11 of their 51 games — and just three of their 27 conference games — baseball coach Marty Lees was fired on Tuesday by athletics director Pat Chun, the school announced via news release.
“I met with Marty this afternoon and let him know I would be making a change in the leadership of our baseball program,” Chun said. “We appreciate Marty’s four years of service at Washington State but at this time I felt a change was necessary. Baseball is one of the most storied programs at Washington State and we will work diligently to find someone to return it to a place of prominence.”
In four seasons, Lees compiled an overall record of just 70-137-2 and only 32-83-2 in Pac-12 play. The high water mark was Lees’ second season, in which the Cougars won just under half their games, but WSU never won more than 10 conference games.
When Lees was hired, it was considered a bit of a coup for the Cougars; Lees had served as the top assistant to longtime Oregon State head coach Pat Casey, and was seen as a coach’s coach who could develop players at a school lacking resources. That obviously never materialized.
Perhaps the first critical mistake Lees made was engaging in extreme roster turnover upon his arrival; many of the players who transferred/run off went on to successful careers elsewhere — notably, Mason Cerillo who left for UW and became a reliable player for the Huskies.
Of course, like Donnie Marbut before him, Lees also suffered from the lack of a dedicated baseball facility. The Board of Regents approved a funding plan for the facility in February, and construction is expected to begin sometime this year.
The timing of the move is a bit odd, as the team still has one more series: This weekend against Arizona at home. Assistant coach Dan Spencer will handle the coaching duties. As is de rigueur, WSU says, “A national search for the next Cougar baseball coach will begin immediately.”