April 24, 2008
BOCA RATON, FL - Kevin Cooney, Florida Atlantic University's longtime head baseball coach, has announced his retirement following 21 years at the helm of one of the country's strongest baseball programs.
"I have enjoyed the friendships made over 21 years with the coaches and staff here at Florida Atlantic. There have been some great people, some interesting personalities, but always a group of people willing to work hard, sometimes against great odds, to provide a positive environment for the student athletes at FAU," said Cooney. "There are so many players for me to thank. Many have stayed in touch throughout the years, and thanks to the anonymity of e-mail, a number have expressed their feelings in very heartfelt ways. Being a part of the lives of so many young men has been the best part of this job."
Cooney came to FAU following a four-year stint at Montclair State University in New Jersey, his alma mater. In his final season at MSU, Cooney guided the Red Hawks to the Division III World Series title and a 106-40-5 record.
Cooney's move to FAU provided an opportunity for him to take over an infant program which was just seven years old at the time, playing at the Division II level. In 1993, Cooney guided the Owls to its second NCAA Division II Regional where the Owls challenged the eventual national champion. The 1994 season was the first for FAU to compete at the Division I level. The Owls jumped onto the national stage with a 54-9 record in 1999, a top-10 ranking, and tied the University of Texas for the nation's longest winning streak at 34 games.
Since that time, the Owls have appeared in five more NCAA Regionals and advanced to the Super Regional in 2002 with a 6-5 victory over the University of Alabama.
"Kevin should be revered for taking this program to the level it is today. It has been an incredible feat," said Craig Angelos, FAU's athletics director. "His tireless enthusiasm, passion and work ethic have been outstanding. He has been a great coach and an equally great person. I have really enjoyed working with him these last five years. I wish he was going to stay here longer, but I respect his decision to move on in his life, and we are going to miss him very much."
FAU has averaged 41 wins in Cooney's last five seasons and has posted a winning record in 18 of his 20 seasons with the Owls. The team is currently on pace to pick up another winning record for this 19th season. In all, 73 FAU players have signed professional baseball contracts, and four made it to the major league rosters in 2007.
More importantly, Cooney has touched the lives of more than 300 athletes who have worn the FAU uniform. Jim Cooney, Kevin's oldest of three sons, pitched for FAU from 1999-2002, was a member of the Baltimore Orioles' organization, and is currently a police officer for the city of Boynton Beach. Cooney's other son, Jeff, worked with the team in 2006 and 2007 and later moved to New Jersey.
Cooney and his wife, MaryBeth, plan to move to Tennessee in August where they will raise their daughter, Maggie, 10, and son, Luke, 8.