Cooper named Penn State coach, leaves Wright State after nine seasons
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Rob Cooper has been selected to guide Penn State as head coach, it was announced by director of athletics David Joyner. Cooper, who comes to Penn State after spending the last nine seasons as the Wright State head coach, is the 14th coach in the 125-year history of the Nittany Lion baseball program.
"Rob has an outstanding background with great collegiate and USA Baseball experience and success," Joyner said. "He has done a fantastic job building the Wright State program into a perennial conference championship contender and we expect that he will have similiar successes at Penn State. Rob embodies the qualities and character of the coaches that we are looking for at Penn State. He is looking forward to mentoring our student-athletes to give them a well-rounded experience to prepare them for life beyond college."
"I am extremely honored and humbled to have this opportunity to be a part of the Penn State family and a part of the One Team," Cooper said. "I am looking forward to leading the baseball program and to get to State College and get to work. I am really excited about what this program can become and what we can do together. I want to thank Dr. Joyner and the entire search committee, led by [assistant athletic director] Jan Bortner, for giving me this opportunity. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and my family. We are really excited to be a part of the Penn State family."
After taking over a team that had six losing seasons in a seven-year span, Cooper built Wright State into a perennial contender in the Horizon League with seven 30-win seasons, two Horizon League regular-season titles, three Horizon League tournament crowns and six Horizon League championship game appearances. During his tenure with the Raiders, Cooper has seen 47 players earn all-conference accolades and 18 garner all-newcomer honors. He has also produced five Horizon League players of the year, one pitcher of the year, three relief pitchers of the year and two newcomers of the year.
In nine seasons, Cooper accumulated a 286-230 record as the Wright State manager. During his tenure at Wright State, he guided the Raiders to a pair of wins against No. 1-ranked opponents in Virginia (March 5, 2010) and Georgia (March 24, 2009). Additionally, Cooper has found success for his players on a professional level, with 21 WSU players signing professional contracts, including seven Major League Baseball draft picks.
Cooper's 2006 squad began the climb for Wright State into the national discussion as the Raiders went 32-27 and won the Horizon League tournament to earn the team's first bid into the NCAA tournament since a play-in appearance in 1995. The 2007 squad continued to push the momentum with a 36-22 mark and runner-up finishes in the Horizon League regular season and tournament, followed by a 30-23 effort by the 2008 team. In 2009, the Raiders made it four consecutive 30-win seasons with a 33-30 mark and a Horizon League tournament championship for their second NCAA tournament bid in four seasons. Wright State continued to excel in 2010, winning its first conference regular-season title since the 1997 Midwestern Collegiate Conference crown with a 31-25 mark. Cooper took home his first Horizon League Coach of the Year award for his efforts.
The 2011 season was a banner year for the Raiders as they posted a 36-19 record and 16-7 mark in conference play to tie for the regular-season title. Wright State went on to win the Horizon League tournament and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament. Cooper was selected as the Horizon League Coach of the Year, while the Raiders laid claim to three of the conference's four major awards in the Player of the Year (Jake Hibberd), Relief Pitcher of the Year (Michael Schum) and Newcomer of the Year (Corey Davis). The Raiders capped their run of seven consecutive 30-win seasons with a 37-21 mark in 2012 for the most wins by a Wright State squad since the 1994 team had 39 victories.
Prior to taking the reins at Wright State, Cooper served as an assistant coach at Oral Roberts during the 2004 season where he helped the Golden Eagles to the Mid-Continent Conference regular-season and tournament titles and a berth in the NCAA tournament. ORU had five players drafted in the 2004 Major League Baseball draft and a pair of American Baseball Coaches Association All-Americans.
Additionally, Cooper spent five seasons at Sacramento City College as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. While at SCC, Cooper helped the Panthers to four Bay Valley Conference titles, as well as a runner-up finish in the California State Championship. Cooper also had assistant coaching stints at Tulane (1997-98), Wake Forest (1996) and Miami (Fla.) (1994-95). He was also an associate baseball scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1990-92.
Cooper has been very active in USA Baseball, most recently being selected as the head coach of the U-18 National Team for the upcoming World Championship in Taichung, Taiwan. He has also served as an assistant coach for the U.S. National Team in 2009 for the Japan-USA College series and a member of the coaching staff for the Junior National Team Trials in 2000. Cooper was also an assistant coach for the 2007 Pan American Games as the United States won the silver medal in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.