One of the most respected men in college baseball, University of Kentucky Head Coach Keith Madison, has announced his resignation, effective at the end of the 2003 campaign.
Madison, in his 25th season at the helm of the Kentucky program, has won 723 games since becoming head coach in 1979. He has won more games than any coach in the 106-year history of Wildcat baseball and ranks second in victories among active Southeastern Conference coaches.
"I'm very grateful and appreciative of the opportunity that (then-athletics director) Cliff Hagan gave me in the summer of 1978," Madison said. "It has been an honor for me to coach at this university for 25 years. UK always has been an incredibly special place for me and it's been a labor of love to be in the athletic department.
"One of the great things about being a coach is being involved in so many positive things. I thank the players for their hard work, loyalty, and dedication. I also thank our assistant coaches, from John Butler, Bob Smith, and Jim Hinerman, to (current assistants) Greg Goff, Jan Weisberg, and Cory Whitby. I've had people who have been hard workers and wonderful guys.
"I'd like to thank God for the opportunity to coach and the health to coach more than 1,300 games and never miss a game. That's been a real blessing."
Known to all in college baseball circles as a person of high integrity, Madison was elected by his peers to serve as vice president of the American Baseball Coaches Association in 1995. With the ABCA officer rotation system, he served as president of the organization in 2000, a year in which he directed the national convention in Atlanta. He continues to serve on the ABCA board and is the All-America team voting coordinator of the South Region, comprised of 36 member institutions. Madison also served as the pitching coach for USA Baseball's national team during the summer of 1999.
"For the past 25 years, Keith Madison has poured his heart and soul into this baseball program," said Mitch Barnhart, UK Director of Athletics. "His philosophy of building character through sportsmanship and integrity is widely regarded as the best in the business. Most of all, he epitomizes class in every aspect, which speaks loudly of his longevity in the game. Kentucky baseball is better off because of Keith Madison. He leaves the program with a solid foundation on which to build."
In his time at UK, Madison has seen 63 of his players drafted by Major League Baseball organizations, including three in the first round, with an additional 20 being signed to free agent professional contracts. Among his more noted pupils are former World Series hero Jim Leyritz and U.S. Olympic team member Chad Green. Madison guided the 1988 Kentucky team to the NCAA Tournament, the school's first berth in 38 years, and was one game away from reaching the College World Series. The Wildcats also earned a place in the 1993 NCAA Tournament. The coach has mentored nine All-Americans, 20 first-team All-SEC selections, and 89 SEC academic honors award-winners.
Aside from his on-the-field efforts, Madison made numerous contributions to the development of facilities for the Wildcat program. He conducted fundraising efforts for the $4.2 million expansion of Cliff Hagan Stadium in 2002. In 1987, Madison oversaw the installation of lights to the stadium before a more extensive renovation took place in 1989. He devotes much of his personal time to speaking at coaching clinics, alumni clubs, church groups and civic organizations, while also being actively involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is highly regarded for his positive influence on his players and coaches and administrators throughout collegiate baseball.
Prior to his time at Kentucky, Madison served as a graduate assistant under renowned Mississippi State Head Coach Ron Polk. Madison's coaching career began at Lake Wales High School in Florida, where he coached for two seasons before moving to Mississippi State. As a player, Madison was signed as a pitcher by the Montreal Expos out of high school and advanced to the Class AAA level in his second season with the organization. After being sidelined with a shoulder injury, Madison moved to the Cincinnati Reds organization, where he reached Class AA before a knee injury ended his professional career.
This season, Kentucky has a 10-17 mark, moving Madison's career record to 723-619-5. The Cats play host to Cincinnati on Wed., April 2, before traveling to Starkville, Miss., for a weekend series with the No. 5 Mississippi State Bulldogs.