June 16, 2009
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Press Conference Reaction: Mark Adzick | Bentley Heyman | Mike Buddie | Walter One-on-One Interview
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Tom Walter, who returned the New Orleans baseball program to national prominence after the school was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, was selected to lead the Wake Forest baseball program, as announced on Tuesday by Director of Athletics Ron Wellman.
"We hired Tom because of the intangibles and what he stands for as a head coach," Wellman said. "Tom understands the academic process and knows what it is like to play and coach at a strong academic institution. He also holds his players accountable both on and off the field. Tom expects his players to graduate and do everything they can to live up to their potential academically as well as athletically.
"Tom also has a strong history of developing players," Wellman continued. "He has had several players drafted that were not drafted coming out of high school. Tom also is a very strong recruiter and knows how to recruit at a private school with strong academics."
"I'm thrilled to be at Wake Forest and there are many reasons for that," Walter said. "The ACC is the best baseball conference in the country. Having sent five teams or more to the NCAA Tournament each year this decade speaks volumes about the competitiveness in the conference.
"More importantly, the decision was based a lot on Ron Wellman and (Baseball Administrator) Mike Buddie and their vision for Wake Forest baseball and the athletic department," Walter said. "There's been so much success here with national championships in golf, soccer, field hockey and the baseball title in 1955. Wake Forest is a tradition-rich university, not only from a baseball standpoint, but also from the entire athletic department."
The 39-year old Walter comes to Wake Forest with a 428-331 record during his 13-year coaching career.
Walter joins Wake Forest after spending the last five seasons at New Orleans. He compiled a 153-147 record at UNO, including leading the Privateers to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2007 and 2008.
New Orleans also boasted one of the best offenses in college baseball under Walter. The Privateers set school records for home runs in both 2007 and 2008 with 97 round-trippers in '08. In 2008, the team also set school records in hits (743), runs (581) and RBIs (524). The offense, which ranked in the top 10 nationally in eight offensive categories throughout the year, helped UNO record its most wins (43) since 1996.
The Privateers recorded their second-consecutive trip to the postseason in 2008, becoming the only school in Louisiana to achieve back-to-back postseason bids in 2007 and 2008 and one of only 37 teams in the country to accomplish the feat.
During the 2008 season, UNO took two of three games from College World Series participant LSU, swept a pair of games from Alabama and also took two of three games from Tulane.
New Orleans also had seven players drafted in the 2008 MLB Draft and a total of 10 Privateers signed professional contracts.
Walter led New Orleans to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his tenure in 2007. UNO finished the season with a 38-26 record, which included the school's first Sun Belt Tournament championship since 1979. The Privateers knocked off regional-host Wichita State in the first game of the 2007 NCAA Regional.
New Orleans combined to win 81 games in 2007 and 2008 and had 13 players sign professional contracts over the two seasons.
In 2006, Walter was able to guide the Privateers to a 30-28 record, despite having to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Walter re-located the team to Las Cruces, New Mexico for the fall semester. The team then moved to Mobile, Alabama, for the month of January and Westwego, Louisiana, for the months of February and March. The team finally returned to campus on March 21, 2006.
Walter's players have also had success in the classroom as all but one of his student-athletes who spent all four years at UNO graduated.
Walter came to New Orleans after a successful eight-year coaching stint at George Washington, which included leading the Colonials to the 2002 NCAA Tournament and an appearance in the Winston-Salem regional, which was held at Wake Forest Baseball Park.
Walter averaged 39 wins a season at GW and is the school's all-time wins leader with a 275-184 record. In the five seasons prior to Walter's arrival, the Colonials averaged 21.5 wins a year.
During his time at George Washington, 26 of Walter's players went on to play professionally. In 2002, six Colonials were taken in the MLB Draft, which marked the most players taken from the school in a single year.
While at GW, Walter also was the head coach for the Cotuit Kettlers of the Cape Cod Baseball League in the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He led the Kettlers to the playoffs in '97.
At Cotuit, Walter coached eight players who went on to the majors and 25 players who signed professional contracts. Included on some of his teams were current big leaguers Aaron Harang (Reds), Chris Capuano and Garrett Atkins (Rockies).
Walter also was a head coach of the New Market (Va.) Rebels during the summer of 1994, where he led the team to the Shenandoah Valley League title.
Before going to GW, Walter spent two years as an assistant general manager with the Greensboro Bats. He performed various duties for the then-New York Yankees Class A affiliate.
Walter played his college baseball at Georgetown University and started all four seasons either behind the plate or in the outfield. He served as team captain in 1990 and 1991 and was named to the 1991 Big East Conference All-Academic Team.
Walter graduated from Georgetown in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in finance. He later went on to earn his MBA at George Washington in 1994, while serving as an assistant coach for the Colonials.
A native of Johnstown, Pa., Walter and his wife, Kirsten, have a son, Chase (9), and a daughter, Kasey (7).