Mark Wasikowski isn’t coming back to Oregon for another rebuilding project.
After helping the Ducks get their fledgling baseball program off the ground, Wasikowski left George Horton’s staff in 2016 to take over a Purdue team that finished 10-44 the previous year.
The Boilermakers went 29-27 in Wasikowski’s first season, then made an NCAA regional the following year at 38-20. Though the Ducks haven’t been to the postseason since 2015, Wasikowski said he accepted the Oregon job with the belief that the Ducks are ready to win now.
“I believe this much: The program started 12 or so years ago with a vision and a dream and they built it literally in the parking lot, built it from the ground up,” said Wasikowski, who was announced Tuesday as Oregon’s next baseball coach. “Now 12 years later, not all the goals have been reached, but it’s at a place now that’s a tremendous foundation for me and my staff and the 2020 Duck baseball team.”
Wasikowski said he couldn’t speak to the source of Oregon’s struggles in the three years since he left and acknowledged the need to win back fans who might have grown disenchanted. As part of the staff that helped Oregon reach a Super Regional in 2012, he’s seen the program at its peak and said the Ducks aren’t far from getting there again.
“I absolutely loved Oregon,” Wasikowski said. “I loved Oregon when I left and love Oregon to this day. When you get a chance to be in the Duck family, you understand how special it is.”
Wasikowski wasn’t part of Horton’s original staff at Oregon but joined the program in 2011 after coaching under Andy Lopez at Arizona and Florida and playing for Lopez as a third baseman on the 1992 Pepperdine team that won the College World Series. He was drafted by the Brewers but opted to remain at Pepperdine as a student assistant before coaching at Southeast Missouri State and rejoining Lopez at Florida in 1999.
Wasikowski has been a recruiting coordinator at each of his stops as an assistant coach and helped assemble the Arizona team that won the College World Series in 2012. The Ducks were 205-106 in his five seasons and made the postseason four times.
“We are excited to add a high-energy and experienced coach in Mark to lead our baseball program,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a release. “He has an outstanding work ethic and a track record as an excellent recruiter, and we expect to compete for championships under his leadership.”
Wasikowski said he interviewed for the job last week in Eugene and came away with no strong indications of which way Oregon was leaning. The Ducks also interviewed Andrew Checketts, another former UO assistant, but Checketts reportedly plans to remain at UC Santa Barbara.
Leaving Purdue wasn’t an easy decision, Wasikowski said, despite the natural draw of returning to Eugene. The Boilermakers battled injuries this year and finished 12th in the Big Ten at 7-16 and 20-34 overall, but Wasikowski said he felt the program was on firm footing and poised for a bounceback.
“They gave me an opportunity here that was a tremendous opportunity,” Wasikowski said. “This is a program that is on the rise. I’m very proud of the work we were able to do here.”
Wasikowski is also proud of his part in reestablishing a baseball program at Oregon. As he returns to Eugene, he’s confident the Ducks won’t be tearing down and starting over.
“The starting point is so much different than it was 12 years ago,” Wasikowski said. “It can’t even be compared. That’s exciting for me to have this opportunity.”