August 20, 2007
(CSTV U-WIRE) LAWRENCE, Kan. -- A newspaper reported last week that Kansas baseball coach Ritch Price was on Oregon's short list of coaching candidates to rebuild the Ducks' baseball program from scratch.
The situation may be sorted out as soon as this week, but Price wants to clarify as much as he can in the meantime.
"I have not heard from them. I have not applied for the job," Price said Saturday afternoon. "They just ran that article last week that said I could be a candidate for that, and my phone has blown up since."
The article Price referred to ran in The Oregonian last Thursday and linked Price to the head coaching vacancy at Oregon. Price, a Sweet Home, Ore., native, said when the school began its search for a coach, it decided to target Oregon natives, so his came up.
"I was flattered to have that be my home state and be mentioned as a candidate for the job, but it certainly hasn't been anything that I've initiated," Price said.
The coaching position has been empty for the last 26 years. Oregon eliminated its baseball program for financial reasons following the 1981 season. But in July, Oregon athletics director Pat Kilkenny announced that the program would be reinstated and play would begin in the 2008-09 season. Prior to that announcement, Oregon was the only Pacific 10 Conference school without a baseball program.
Originally, Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin and Atlanta Braves Triple-A manager Dave Brundage were the leading candidates for the job, but both turned down the position last week. University of California, Irvine coach Dave Serrano is now thought to be Oregon's top choice and will interview with the school on Monday.
Since last week's report, Price has tried to remain business as usual. The Jayhawks held a team meeting on Friday and not a word was spoken about the Oregon coaching position.
"I didn't even address it because there's nothing to it on my end," Price said. "If they were to contact me next week, I would certainly let my players know, and obviously, I would visit with (University of Kansas associate athletics director) Sean Lester first."
Price said he was scheduled to meet with Lester Monday at Lester's request. Price said Lester was out of town last week when the report came out, and he wanted to talk to Price about it when he got back to Lawrence.
Kansas signed football coach Mark Mangino, men's basketball coach Bill Self and women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson to contract extensions last year, and the athletics department might now be prompted to do the same with Price. However, Price isn't looking to use Oregon's possible interest in him as a tool to parlay a bigger contract at Kansas.
"I'm certainly not using it as bargaining power at all. That's not my personality," Price said. "My personality is I do my job the best I can, and I just hope the people I work with bear with me."
If Price were to leave for Oregon, he would be met with the task of building a program from the ground up. Some people believe that the baseball program would only have 3.5 scholarships the first year, and it may take as many as five years before it can offer the maximum 11.7 scholarships.
"It's going to be a building process there. It will be a huge challenge," Price said. "But they're going to build an $8 million stadium. They're going to make it one of the best jobs in the country. That's literally what it's going to be."
While Oregon could turn into a Top 25 program down the line, Price has built his own.
Price is 173-142-1 in five seasons at Kansas and is currently third on the school's all-time victories list. Price's 2006 squad won the Big 12 Championship and reached an NCAA Regional for the first time in more than a decade.
This year's team looks to have as much potential as the one from 2006 and includes Price's two youngest sons, senior Ryne Price and sophomore Robby Price. Price's oldest son, Ritchie, also played baseball at Kansas and holds eight school records. All of which are reasons why Price is happy right where he is.
"I've got my hands full at Kansas. There's nobody in America who works harder than I do. I'm completely committed to baseball at Kansas and putting the best product on the field that I possibly can," Price said. "I just signed the best recruiting class I've signed in the five years I've been at Kansas. Those players have signed to play at KU, and they signed to play for me.
"Oregon would have to make me an offer that I just absolutely couldn't refuse before I'd ever leave. I've never once thought about leaving."