Finwood leaves WKU for Old Dominion

WKU baseball coach Chris Finwood has reportedly accepted the same position at Old Dominion University, where the Virginia native will join former athletic director Wood Selig.

Cole Claybourn

WKU Athletics Director Ross Bjork announced Wednesday morning that Chris Finwood is leaving WKU to become the next baseball coach at Old Dominion.

Bjork said he and Finwood notified the players of the decision via a conference call early Wednesday morning.

“Chris and I discussed his future here at WKU many times and again once the season concluded,” Bjork said. “In the end, we did everything in our power to retain Coach Finwood, but we could not compete with his deep family ties and previous coaching experiences within the state of Virginia.”

The Virginian-Pilot first reported that Finwood would leave WKU for ODU in a report published Tuesday.

Finwood, a native of Hampton, Va., and a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, joins former WKU Athletics Director Wood Selig at ODU.

Selig, who has now hired Finwood for the second time after bringing him to WKU in 2005, declined comment to the Pilot.

Bjork said more than two weeks ago, Finwood was offered a contract extension that would provide him more financial and long-term security for him and the program.

Bjork said they were even ready to offer more money for assistant coaches, citing continuity as a key factor.

“On Monday of this week, we presented new terms and additional incentives to his contract and our hope was for him to accept this extension and move ahead as our coach for a long time to come,” Bjork said. “I respect Chris and Annette’s decision and this unique personal opportunity was one they could not turn down.”

Finwood also released a statment on Wednesday morning, echoing what Bjork said that this is a “unique opportunity” for him and his family.

“Ross and I had many conversations both during this past season and recently, and I really appreciate his candor and support,” he said. “He offered a very fair extension to me and has a vision for continuing to improve the baseball program, and my leaving is in no way a reflection on anything at WKU.”

Finwood brought WKU baseball to an unprecedented level of success during his tenure.

In 2009, he lead WKU to its first 40-win season in 21 years and also earned a share of the school’s first-ever Sun Belt regular-season title. That same year, WKU earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and Finwood was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year.

WKU also saw the amount of major-league draft picks significantly climb under Finwood. After having no players drafted in 2007, one was drafted in 2008, six in 2009, five in 2010 and six again in 2011.

Four players were drafted in the first 10 rounds in this year’s draft. Kes Carter became the highest WKU draft pick ever when he was taken No. 56 overall by the Tampa Bay Rays.

The previous record was held by another one of Finwood’s players, Wade Gaynor, who was taken at No. 89 overall pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2009.

Finwood compiled a 190-154 overall record in his five years at WKU.

“We did some special things, and none of it would have happened without a tremendous assistant coaching staff, players who bought into the right way to do things, and a loyal and hard working support staff,” Finwood said. “This program is bigger than any one individual, and I am confident the next head coach will continue the progress we made and take this program to even higher levels.”

Bjork said finding a replacement for Finwood begins immediately. 

“Our program will attract a number of quality candidates that can lead WKU baseball to next level results on the field and in the classroom,” he said.