Steve Johnson has resigned as Fort Hays State University baseball coach effective at the conclusion of his contract this summer, FHSU announced Wednesday.
Fort Hays State athletic director Curtis Hammeke said Johnson is stepping away from coaching to make a career change.
"I think he'd like the opportunity to work in a place a little bit more conducive to family life than that of a coach and the time spent away from there at this time in his career," Hammeke said.
Johnson will leave the Tigers after eight seasons, compiling a 162-228 record. The Tigers are just 23-76 over the last two seasons, including a 13-37 (5-31 MIAA) mark this past year.
The Salisbury, Mo. native posted three straight winning seasons to start his tenure at FHSU but the Tigers have struggled through five straight losing seasons since. His best season was in 2012 when Fort Hays went 29-24 and reached the MIAA Tournament championship.
"He had a great career as a player and as a coach early in his career and at the outset here," Hammeke said of Johnson, a former University of Alabama-Birmingham standout who signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and played five years in professional baseball. "He had a couple unfortunate years where I think injuries really played a part in some of their struggles. It's difficult to overcome that. Recruiting became a bigger challenge on the heels of some of those unfortunate scenarios. It's something that's just a grind to keep fighting through to overcome."
Johnson was hired by the Tigers in May of 2010 after seven years at Butler Community College. He went 235-155 at Butler and guided the program to at least 30 wins in his last six seasons and an NJCAA World Series appearance in 2006. Prior to his time at Butler, Johnson was as an assistant at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He got his start in collegiate coaching at Fort Hays in 1996-97.
Johnson's replacement will be the 15th head baseball coach in program history. A national search will begin immediately.
"Obviously we want someone with great knowledge of the game and we'd like to have someone with good recruiting ties," Hammeke said. "We're also looking for a really good person — we always are, in the hiring of our coaches. Good people who know the sport and have a passion about the sport.
"We're looking for the best fit for the program. Recruiting ties are important. Obviously that's the lifeline of any sport. We're going to want to have some ties within the region and nationally for recruiting ties."