MARTIN, Tenn. – University of Tennessee at Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes and athletics director Julio Freire have announced the hiring of Rick Robinson as the tenth head baseball coach in Skyhawk program history.
A formal meet-and-greet to welcome Coach Robinson to UT Martin has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Monday, June 9 at the First State Bank second floor reception area on 106 University Street in Martin. All community members are welcome.
“We are very pleased to have Coach Robinson lead our baseball program into a new era,” Dr. Rakes said. “He has an extended history coaching successful college baseball programs.”
“We are ecstatic to hire a head coach of (Rick) Robinson’s caliber,” Freire said. “I am confident of his abilities to guide our baseball student-athletes and I am excited about the future of our program.”
Robinson brings 17 years of head coaching experience to UT Martin, including the past 16 years transforming Young Harris College into a junior college and NCAA Division-II powerhouse. Robinson sports a 699-281 career head coaching record (.713 winning percentage) and boasts four 50-win seasons, eight conference championships, five Region XVII championships and one NJCAA World Series appearance.
“I want to thank Chancellor Rakes and Julio for allowing me the opportunity to lead the UT Martin baseball program,” Robinson said. “My family and I are excited about becoming involved in the Martin community. This is the most exciting time of the year for college baseball. As I watch the postseason games it’s a great time to dream about the future of UT Martin baseball. With the help of the administration, I look forward to producing young men who know how to win in the classroom, on the diamond and in life after baseball.”
Robinson, who has never had a losing record as a head coach, averaged 49.3 wins per season from 2002-08 in the junior college ranks before Young Harris transitioned into a four-year baccalaureate school competing in Division-II in 2011. The transition did not slow down Robinson, as he guided the Mountain Lions to 114 wins over his last four seasons.
In his coaching career, Robinson has guided 38 players to the professional ranks, including 25 Major League Baseball draft selections. Current major leaguers who have played under Robinson include Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis (seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2003 MLB Draft), Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon (72nd overall pick in the second round of the 2008 MLB Draft) and Atlanta Braves right-handed pitcher Cory Gearrin (138th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2007 MLB Draft).
Robinson has coached a pair of National Players of the Year in Markakis (2003) and Bryson Smith (2009) and also worked with some of the game’s brightest college stars when he served as head coach of the Hiyamis Mets in the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2008.
Robinson began his head coaching career at Brevard College in North Carolina, where he started the first baseball program in school history in 1992. In its inaugural season, Robinson posted a 33-22 overall record and a third place NJCAA Region X finish. A total of eight players from that Brevard team signed professional contracts.
Robinson then took over at Young Harris in 1999 and immediately turned the program into one of the top junior college programs in the nation. His teams went 155-29 over a three-year span (2003-05) that saw the team set school records with 52 victories in both 2003 and 2004. He also led Young Harris to the 2007 NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. and posted another 50-win campaign in 2008.
Before his time at Young Harris, Robinson spent four years as an assistant coach at Old Dominion University, a Division-I school located in Norfolk, Va. During his time at the baseball-rich school, he served as third base coach, camp director and recruiting coordinator.
At Old Dominion, Robinson helped the Monarchs to a pair of conference championships and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Regionals (1995-96). In four recruiting classes, he helped produce 22 players who signed professional contracts, including Tim Hummel (second round pick, 52nd overall by the Chicago White Sox in the 2000 MLB Draft). Robinson also worked with current major leaguers David Wright (New York Mets), Michael Cuddyer (Colorado Rockies), Justin Upton (Atlanta Braves) and BJ Upton (Atlanta Braves) in Old Dominion’s camps.
Before his appointment at Brevard College, Robinson posted a .672 winning percentage at the high school level in North Carolina. He led West Henderson High School in Hendersonville to its first-ever winning season and first berth in the state playoffs and also had a successful stint at Pisgah High School in Canton.
A Brevard, NC native, Robinson played collegiate baseball at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He earned his degree from Appalachian State and later earned a Master’s degree from Furman University.
Robinson is married to the former Luann DeGroat of Hawley, Pa. The couple has been married for more than 20 years and has three children: Faithe (17), Rhett (14) and Ryan (11).