"In making this announcement, Tulane is losing one of its coaching icons today," Tulane director of athletics Rick Dickson said. "The standard created by Rick Jones over the last 21 years is exemplary and stands tall not only for Tulane but all of college baseball."
The winningest coach in Tulane athletics history, Jones had missed the second half of the 2014 season after falling ill in late March. Jones' illness is not considered life threatening.
"For my well-being, and for the well-being of this program that I love so much, it is in the best interest for both that I step down," Jones said. "I want thank Kevin White and Dr. Eamon Kelly for hiring me, and I want to especially thank Rick Dickson and Dr. Scott Cowen for giving me the opportunity to be here for so long. I will always bleed green. I love this place, and I love this city and I've loved the opportunity I had here. I want to also thank all of my former players and coaches for helping me make so many great memories. Lastly, I want to thank our fans for being so loyal to me and the program. I will be sitting in the stands and pulling for the Green Wave just like I was when I was in the dugout."
Jones will leave Tulane baseball as the program's longest-tenured coach, as well as its winningest coach. In 21 years at Tulane, Jones compiled a record of 818-445-2. The head skipper guided the Green Wave to 12 NCAA Regional appearances, two NCAA Super Regional appearances and the program's only two appearances in the College World Series in 2001 and 2005.
For his career, Jones boasts an overall head-coaching record of 1,094-538-3, after making head-coaching stops at Ferrum (1982-84) and Elon (1985-89). Jones came to Tulane after serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Georgia Tech from 1990-93.
A staple of Tulane athletics, Jones' resume is filled with accomplishments during his time on the Uptown campus. In 2005, he was named the National Coach of the Year by Baseball America after leading the Green Wave to a 56-12 season that culminated with the program's second appearance in the College World Series, arguably the best season ever by a Green Wave baseball squad. He was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year on three different occasions (1997, 2001, and '05), and he owns more wins in the league than any other head coach. Ten of his Tulane teams posted 40 or more victories, and his squads have averaged 40 wins a season during his 20 full years at the helm of the program.
In 2009, Jones was appointed the head coach of the 2009 United States Collegiate National Team. He guided the Red, White and Blue to the championship of the 2009 Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline World Baseball Challenge at Prince George Citizen Field in British Columbia, posting a 5-1 record in the tournament. Jones' squad grabbed the title with a 5-2 victory against Canada in the championship game.
In late 2013, Jones became one of just a handful of current coaches to record 800 wins at his current school when his squad posted an 8-1 win over UCF in Orlando. At the time, only 15 other head coaches in the nation had 800 wins at their current school, a mark of excellence and a testament to the success Jones had during the course of his career at Tulane.
Wearing No. 10 throughout his career at Tulane, Jones brought national recognition to the program he helped build, as many national media outlets – such as Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game – became regulars at Green Wave practices and games. In a 2007 study done by Baseball America, Tulane had the most meteoric rise among college baseball programs from 1999 through the end of the 2006 season. Baseball America honored the Green Wave the following January, naming Tulane one of 16 teams nationally to receive an "A" impact rating based on overall performance both on and off the field since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 64 in 1999.
Jones has also been instrumental in teaching the game of baseball to the youth of New Orleans, as a plethora of youngsters have come through his camps each summer on the Uptown campus.
In the New Orleans community, Jones' teams have spent countless hours giving back through visits to local hospitals, community service work and through fundraisers. During the past few seasons, Jones' teams have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Vs. Cancer Foundation, who in turn donated half of those funds to the Child Life Department at Ochsner Hospital.
Many of Jones' players had tremendous success during his tenure as head coach, as 61 Green Wave players earned all-conference honors from C-USA and the Metro Conference on 89 different occasions, including 54 first-team selections. Twenty-eight claimed all-freshman honors during Jones' tenure at Tulane.
Nationally, 22 of Jones' players received All-American recognition – including at least one every season from 1996-2006. Seventeen of his players have been named Freshman All-Americans, and five have gone on to play for the USA Baseball National Team.
Professionally, Major League Baseball teams spent 54 draft picks on Tulane players since 1994, including five first-round selections. A total of 76 of Jones' players have signed professional contracts.
Off the field, Tulane baseball produced unprecedented success in the classroom, as more than 200 of his players earned C-USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll recognition since 1996. Six of those players earned Academic All-American status.
Every player who played four years for Jones completed their degree, and several have gone on to prominent roles in their post-graduate life. While baseball has been the career choice of some, the list of former Jones players include Major Leaguers, Major League general managers, radiologists, lawyers, state representatives, accountants and health care workers.
Jones' impact is not limited to his players, however, as many of his former assistants have held collegiate head coaching positions: Brian Cleary (formerly at Cincinnati), Buddy Gouldsmith (formerly at UNLV) Jim Schlossnagle (TCU), Rob Cooper (Penn State) and Mark Kingston (Illinois State). In addition to his former assistants, three of his former players are now college head coaches: Mike Kennedy at Elon, Steve Trimper at Maine and Matt Riser at Southeastern Louisiana.
Tulane will begin a national search immediately.