LOS ANGELES--Frank Cruz, an assistant baseball coach at USC and formerly the head coach at Loyola Marymount, will serve as the Trojans' interim head coach during the 2011 season in place of Chad Kreuter, who was relieved of his duties today (Aug. 9) by new USC athletic director Pat Haden.
"On my first day on the job at USC last week, I said one of my goals was to return the USC baseball program to national prominence," said Haden. "There is no reason we shouldn't be there.
"We thank Chad Kreuter for his four years of hard work and service, but this move was necessary to revitalize our program. USC is synonymous with college baseball. This is the most successful and tradition-laden program in the country. We've won twice as many College World Series titles (12) as anybody. We need to get back to our championship ways."
Kreuter, a former major league catcher, had a 4-year (2007-10) USC record of 111-117 (.487), including 39-63 (.382) in the Pac-10. His Trojans finished no higher than fifth in the league standings, including ninth in 2007 and 10th in 2010. This past season, USC went 28-32 overall and 7-20 in the league. Under Kreuter, USC won just 3 of 14 games against crosstown rival UCLA.
"Because this move is being made much later in the year than is customary and with school starting here in 2 weeks, we have asked Frank Cruz to step in as head coach on an interim basis this season," said Haden. "He has graciously accepted that challenge. Frank is a highly-regarded and experienced coach who was part of some very successful USC teams in the past, and we believe he will get our program headed back into a winning direction.
"We will spend this coming season identifying the best coach possible for USC and we will include Frank Cruz in the pool of candidates. I'm confident we will find the right person to get us playing again at a championship level."
Cruz, 51, spent the past 2 seasons (2009-10) as a volunteer assistant with the Trojans. He is in his second tour of duty at USC, as he previously spent 4 seasons (1993-96) as a fulltime assistant at Troy under then-head coach Mike Gillespie. During that first stint, the Trojans compiled a 169-86-1 record and made 4 straight NCAA Tournament appearances. In 1995, USC made its first College World Series appearance in 17 years, reaching the championship game and finishing with a 49-21 record.
"This is a bittersweet time for me," said Cruz. "I really enjoyed working for Chad Kreuter and I have the utmost respect for him. I hate to see him go. He put his heart and soul into coaching the USC baseball team.
"I have had a great devotion to Trojan baseball ever since I came here to work for Mike Gillespie. I want this program to succeed in every way possible. I will get to work immediately to continue to improve our program and I appreciate the opportunity given to me to do that."
Cruz was the head coach at Loyola Marymount for 12 years (1997-2008). He finished eighth in West Coast Conference history for overall victories (329) and sixth in conference wins (170). He was the WCC Coach of the Year 3 times (1998-2000-2004). The Lions won 3 straight WCC titles from 1998 to 2000 (the first time in school history) and made 3 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament. His team also won 2 other WCC Coast Division titles (2004-05) that enabled the Lions to play in the conference championship series.
The Collegiate Baseball publication named Cruz the "Recruiter of the Year" in 1997.
While at LMU, he served a 4-year term on the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee.
Cruz was an assistant coach for the 2000 U.S. National Team as the squad compiled a 27-3-1 record, finishing up on a 21-game unbeaten streak. Team USA beat Cuba twice to win the 2000 IBAF Tournament in the Netherlands.
USA Baseball invited Cruz back again in 2004, this time as the head coach for Team USA. The team captured the program's first gold medal at the FISU World University Championships in Taiwan, winning 12 of its final 14 games. He was named 2004 International Baseball Federation International Coach of the Year and USA Baseball National Development Coach of the Year.
Before USC, Cruz was the head coach at University High in Los Angeles, posting a 152-68 career record. He led University to the 1988 L.A. City baseball title, 4 Western League crowns (1988-90-91-92) and 6 trips to the L.A. City baseball playoffs. He was named the area Coach of the Year 3 times.
He attended Santa Monica College and transferred to Pepperdine, where he earned a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1983 and a master's degree in education in 1989. He is a graduate of St. Monica High in Santa Monica.