"It has been an honor and a distinct privilege to represent the University of Kentucky as head baseball coach," Henderson said in a letter released by the school. "It has been a source of price to compete in the SEC for 17 years, including the last 13 at Kentucky, eight as head coach and five as an assistant coach.
"That said, it is 100 percent my decision to resign at this time based in part because the results don't meet my expectations."
Henderson posted a 258-199 record during eight seasons as head coach at UK with two NCAA Tournament appearances.
The news came on the same day that Louisville, a No. 1 national seed for the upcoming tourney, announced a new $1 million per year extension for head coach Dan McConnell.
“I am deeply appreciative of the contributions Gary Henderson made during his time here,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “He has poured his heart and soul into Kentucky baseball, giving us many of the best seasons and most thrilling moments in our history while competing in the most difficult league in America. He has conducted himself and the program with honor and integrity.”
Kentucky has experienced a wide range of highs and lows the last five years.
In 2012, the Cats compiled a school-record 22-game winning streak and ascended to the No. 1 national ranking for the first time in program history. Henderson was named SEC Coach of the Year as UK advanced to the finals of the NCAA Regional in Gary, Ind.
Kentucky missed the tournament in 2013 before bouncing back for a return appearance in 2014. That season was highlighted by Henderson's best recruiting triumph in the form of unanimous national player of the year AJ Reed, who posted a 12-2 record on the mound and led the country with 23 home runs.
But the program was unable to build on that momentum, failing to receive a postseason bid in 2015 and 2016. Inconsistency was the theme this season as the Cats won series against No. 1 Florida and No. 2 South Carolina, but went 3-5 against in-state programs, getting swept by Louisville and losing to Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky and Northern Kentucky. The Cats finished league play at 15-15 despite winning its first four weekend series.
Kentucky remains the only SEC member to have never reached the College World Series.