June 27, 2012
Conference USA is set to have two honorees inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend in Lubbock, Texas. Rice head coach Wayne Graham and C-USA Coordinator of Umpires Rich Fetchiet will both be honored as part of the Hall of Fame's "Night of Champions."
Graham earned his fifth Conference USA Coach of the Year award this season while guiding the Owls to a 41-19 overall record and the C-USA regular season championship. His Owls have won or shared a total of 17 consecutive conference titles (including the regular season and/or conference tournament) spanning Rice's membership in three different leagues. In addition to 18-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, he has guided Rice to 18-straight seasons with at least 40 wins.
The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship. Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09 and `11. Graham was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03.
He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08, `10 and `12. Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08). Graham has led the Owls to No. 1 rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003, three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07.
Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90). The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance. Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century.
Fetchiet is the recipient of the National Collegiate Umpire Award -- honoring a lifetime of excellence in umpiring. Fetchiet, who has umpired college baseball for 35 years, has worked three College World Series at two levels of NCAA baseball. His resumé also includes serving as a coordinator for eight NCAA Division I collegiate conferences, service on numerous NCAA committees and assignment to five major international competitions, culminating in the Olympic Games.
Fetchiet's selection was the result of a nomination and screening process by past and current NCAA national coordinators of umpires, NCAA regional advisers, umpire conference coordinators and four collegiate head coaches.
Fetchiet has served as C-USA's Coordinator of Umpires since 1999. Under Fetchiet's leadership, at least one C-USA umpire has been assigned by the NCAA to work the College World Series since 1999. This year, three C-USA umpires were in Omaha, with 16 assigned to NCAA postseason play.
The other 2012 Hall of Fame inductees include Lou Brock, a Major League Hall of Famer who was a collegiate star at Southern University from 1958-60; Ed Cheff, who won 16 NAIA national championships coaching at Lewis Clark State from 1977-2010; Nomar Garciaparra, a three-time All-America selection at Georgia Tech who went on to make six all-star games during a 14-year major league career; Tim Jorgensen, a two-time Division III National Player of the Year and All-American at Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Brad Wilkerson, a three-time All-America selection and 1998 National Player of the Year from the University of Florida; and the late Frank Sancet, who coached at Arizona for 23 seasons where he led the Wildcats to the College World Series ten times.
For more information, visit www.CollegeBaseballHall.org.