Rice University announced Friday that Matt Bragga is leaving Tennessee Tech to become the baseball Owls' 21st head coach. He succeeds the retiring Wayne Graham, a former Chattanooga Lookout whose 27 years at the Houston school included more than 1,150 victories and the 2003 College World Series championship.
Tech quickly issued a release thanking Bragga for his 15 years of success in Cookeville, capped this year by a school- and Ohio Valley Conference-record 53 victories, a No. 10 national ranking, a win against Texas in a best-of-three super regional, five All-Americans and eight major league draft picks.
This was the Golden Eagles' third NCAA tournament appearance under him and their sixth OVC championship in 10 years. They won 446 games with Bragga as coach and at least 40 in four of the last six seasons.
"Matt Bragga is the right person to carry on the terrific legacy and national prominence of Rice baseball," athletic director Joe Karlgaard said in a Rice release. "He has 19 years of head coaching experience and has driven success at multiple levels of college baseball. Everyone we spoke with said that the reason Tennessee Tech has been so successful in recent years is Matt's ability to identify and develop talent, inspire young men and teach the game of baseball."
The 2018 Golden Eagles led the nation in batting average, hits, home runs, runs scored, homers and runs per game, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
"I am humbled to lead the Rice baseball program and honored to carry on the rich tradition established under Wayne Graham," Bragga said. "My goal is to compete in the College World Series and win championships. I will also work to ensure our student-athletes reach their full potential both on and off the field, at one of the greatest institutions in the world."
TTU's release said, in part, "One could go on and on when describing the impact that former head coach Matt Bragga has had on Tennessee Tech baseball program."
Said athletic director Mark Wilson: "On behalf of Tennessee Tech athletics, I'd like to thank Matt for everything he has done for the Golden Eagles in his time as a member of our family. I wish Matt and his family the very best as they embark on the newest chapter in their lives."