Written by: NMSU Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – New Mexico State University Athletics Director Dr. McKinley Boston announced Tuesday, June 17 that head baseball coach Rocky Ward has agreed to a three-year contract extension.
Boston felt that Ward has improved his team both on and off the field, which is why he has given Ward the extension that will take his contract through the 2011 season.
"The primary reason is the outstanding work Rocky (Ward) has done over the past three years improving the academic culture of the baseball program," Dr. Boston said. "He and his colleagues have worked hard toward an acceptable APR level."
The Aggie baseball team has made great improvements in the Academic Progress Report since 2004. The team has had a steady rise in its APR level from .792 in 2003-04, to .849 in 2004-05, to .859 in 2005-06 and finally reaching a .882 level in 2006-07. The goal NMSU would like its teams to be at is .925.
As the Aggies improved in the classroom, this year they improved on the field from the past two seasons. NMSU made the conference tournament and finished the season with six all-conference selections which ties the school record set during the 2003 season.
Ward has now been at NMSU for 11 years and he said he is grateful to continue his tenure at the university. Before Ward came to NMSU, the Aggies were lacking some positive tradition when it came to their baseball program. Now the tradition is positive, hard working and successful both on and off the field.
"I am extremely grateful to Dr. Boston and NMSU for recognizing our outstanding accomplishments over the past several years and am looking forward to continuing to grow NMSU baseball into a consistently successful program," Ward said.
NMSU finished 15-17 in WAC play this past season, in a conference that is now being considered one of the toughest conferences in the nation with the success of Fresno State. The 15 wins the Aggies earned this season is a nine game improvement from the 2007 season and three more wins than the 2006 and 2007 seasons combined.
The Aggies beat Fresno State on their home field three times in 2008. The first win over the Bulldogs came in the Johnny Quick Classic hosted by Fresno State March 10. NMSU went back to Pete Beiden Field April 18-20 and split the four-game series with the College World Series participants that weekend. The Aggies fell in the weekend opener 11-8 before they won both game of the Saturday double-header 9-2 and 12-7. The series finale was a tough 6-4 loss for the Aggies, but Ward's team showed it could play with the best in the nation.
Boston also knows entire coaching staff, including coach Chase Tidwell, who was a head coach at Laredo Community College before coming to NMSU, and Hall of Fame coach Gary Ward, bring plenty of winning experience to the team.
"This year's recruiting class is the largest and highest quality class since our 2000 class, which netted us four straight years of 30-plus win seasons," Ward said.
The coaching staff has been hard at work to bring in local and regional talent. They signed 17 players in the November early signing period and six additional players in this summers signing period.
"Ward's current coaching staff is solid and I believe that will be instrumental in the efforts to build a consistent, competitive and entertaining program with quality student-athletes," Boston said.
Boston can see the baseball program heading in the direction it needs to go and believes the team will continue to improve in all aspects of the program.
"I stated to all of our coaches three and a half years ago that we were on a journey to excellence and I also stated that athletics and academics were not mutually exclusive of each other," Dr. Boston said. "I believe Rocky (Ward) is on track and he is on the train with us and he clearly understands the vision and expectations we have here."