Tom Walter, the winningest baseball coach in GW history, stepped down last week after eight years in Foggy Bottom to become head coach at the University of New Orleans.
Walter, who could not be reached for comment, led GW to a 41-18 record last year, as the Colonials captured the Atlantic 10 West title and just missed the NCAA Tournament. In eight seasons under Walter, the Colonials had a combined record of 275-184 and were consistently one of the best teams in the A-10.
“We had a lot of discussion (Thursday), but he had a very good deal (at New Orleans),” said GW Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz. “In terms of baseball, when you’re in a warm weather climate you can play all year round.”
He added that GW could not match the financial offer New Orleans, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, put on the table.
“Everything happened in one day,” Kvancz said. “(New Orleans) pulled the trigger and he accepted. So the only thing we told the players is that someone new will be coming in.”
Players said Walter called them Thursday to tell them of his decision.
“Coach Walter called me yesterday and told me it was the right move for him in baseball,” said sophomore first baseman Anthony Smith. “He said it was a very tough phone call for him to make. It was a short conversation.”
Smith, who was not only one of GW’s best players but also one of the top freshmen in the nation last year, said Walter’s departure might cause him to transfer.
“Right now (transferring) is a possibility because of (the uncertainty about) who is coming in,” Smith said. “I will have to weigh my options.”
But others said they are just happy for Walter.
“(New Orleans) is a great job and a great baseball program,” junior shortstop Tom Shanley said. “I don’t have negative feelings towards him.”
Kvancz said GW has already begun searching for a new coach and will probably hire Walter’s replacement within the next few weeks.
One possible candidate for the job, according to Shanley, is assistant coach Dennis Healy, who graduated from GW in 1996 and has been with the program for the last five years.
“If (Healy) gets the job there would be no problems,” Shanley said. “Talking with other players I don’t think anyone is going to transfer. I think everyone will be back for at least next year.”