Following his resignation as Alabama baseball coach, the athletics department released a statement from Gaspard regarding his decision. He told Athletics Director Bill Battle last Friday that he would resign at the end of the season. When Bama did not make the 64-team NCAA Tournament when the bracket was announced Monday, the season was over and Gaspard’s resignation was made public.
Here is the message from Mitch Gaspard:
Last Friday, after our elimination from the SEC Baseball Tournament, I sat down with our Director of Athletics, Bill Battle, and discussed the state of our baseball program. I focused on my feelings about our situation and where I am as in my coaching career and my primary role in life - as husband to my devoted wife, Kim, and the father of two beautiful young ladies, Brae and Paeton.
Our discussion was wide-ranging. It was about where our program is in its development, the aspirations we all still have for Alabama baseball, the successes and the disappointments, and where I am in my coaching career. As a former head coach, Bill understands the pressures involved in the job to a degree that many do not. He gets the reality of what we all go through - the reality that being a coach is more than just a day job. It truly is a way of life.
During that meeting, I expressed to Bill my desire to step down as head coach of the Crimson Tide baseball team. That decision was not something I arrived at during that meeting, but a decision that evolved very gradually over the last few weeks and months. Bill was supportive of me, and of my decision. But, more importantly, was primarily concerned with the well-being of everyone involved - myself, my family, my coaching staff, my support staff and, most of all, the players in the program and their families, along with the recruits and signees who have yet to formally join us in Tuscaloosa.
Decisions like this are never easy. I can say without any doubt, it is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. But, I feel that the time is right - not only for me, but for this program. Our players, my staff, and my family have put everything we have into this program, and they deserve the best.
This is not a decision that I have come to terms with easily. For Kim, the girls, and I, baseball has been our life. And it will continue to be. From 1995, when I first came to Tuscaloosa as an assistant coach to Jim Wells, The University of Alabama has been a consistent part of our lives and is now the place we call home. Few people get to pursue their passion while making a living. I am a very fortunate person.
Alabama has high expectations for its baseball program. That's something we have always embraced. Crimson Tide baseball's tradition speaks for itself, and I am confident that we have set a good foundation for future success. My family and I have invested a lot into the program and we wish nothing but the best for the Tide. As I told Bill, I hope to be able to assist him and the program in any way possible ongoing. I am so grateful to Bill for his steady support and guidance. The role he played in the reconstruction of our baseball stadium will stand as a legacy to his tremendous support of our program.
I am thankful for Kim and the girls, who have been there every step of the way. Always supportive. Always a presence at every game. That's really a remarkable display of devotion over the last 28 years. They have allowed me to do this job and they have sacrificed a lot, but we've also had so many great experiences and wonderful memories.
I am thankful for the countless friends who have always provided encouragement for me when things didn't go well and have celebrated so many victories. I want to thank two great men who believed in me and trusted me to lead baseball programs and traditions at Northwestern State and Alabama – Greg Burke and the late Mal Moore.
I am thankful for my coaches and administrators who helped me realize the dream of making baseball my life: my high school coach, Emerick Jagneaux; my college coaches - Skip Bertman at LSU and Dr. Bragg Stockton at Houston, who gave me my first job as an assistant coach at UH in 1988; Mike Boulanger, who hired me as an assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette in 1989; former Director of Athletics at the University of Alabama Hootie Ingram, and, of course, the great Jim Wells, who mentored me as a coach for 15 years starting as an assistant at Northwestern State in 1993, on through our time together during two stints as his assistant at Alabama. Jim was instrumental in my getting my first head coaching job, at Northwestern State, before returning to Alabama. And he's really the person who made it possible for me to have had the opportunity to succeed him at Alabama. My family owe these men more than we can even describe. I hope I’ve made them proud.
I am thankful for all the coaches, support staff, and our booster groups. All of whom have loyally stood with us, and helped us rebuild our baseball facility that is among the nation’s finest. They were all so dependable, loyal and steadfast as we battled on the field and in recruiting and so many were instrumental in the positive development of our young men. All of you have my undying gratitude.
I am thankful to our fans who have supported our teams in Sewell-Thomas Stadium and all across the country. While the program isn't where we all hoped it would be, we definitely are a winning program. We have accomplished a lot of great things, on and off the field, and we’ve done it right.
Finally, and certainly from the deepest part of my soul, I am thankful to all the young men and their families who entrusted their futures to us, to attend The University of Alabama and to proudly wear the Crimson Tide uniform. We enjoyed our successes, helped each other through our struggles, and I fervently believe that our young men grew as students and as people from their experience.
I am hopeful and confident that Alabama baseball has a bright future. I am also proud to say that we have left in place a great foundation for success for the next head coach. These players have worked hard and deserve to reach their potential and reap the rewards.
As I have said throughout, I am thankful. I’ve been blessed to be able to say I don't feel I've ever had to work a day in my life because I have been blessed to be doing something that I love. My family and I have been proud to be part of the Crimson Tide family, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to lead this program.