Athletic Director Greg Cooper announced today (November 29) that Matt Howard will coach the team, with Joe Thatcher as assistant coach. Howard coached the Kokomo Jackrabbits in the Prospect League for two seasons, leading them to the post-season playoffs in 2016. He begins work at IU Kokomo December 6, and will immediately begin the job of recruiting players.
Kokomo native Joe Thatcher graduated from Kokomo High School before playing four seasons at Indiana State University. He retired from Major League Baseball in September after 13 seasons with teams including the San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Houston Astros.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke is appreciative of the search committee that reviewed more than 100 high-quality applicants. Although it was a difficult decision, they believed that Howard rose to the top due to his passion and energy, which was infectious. “We could not be more excited to have Matt and Joe start our program,” she said, adding that the Kokomo Municipal Stadium will be home field for the team.
The community and media are invited to a meet and greet of the new coaching staff on Monday, December 5, from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Kelley Student Center, room 130 B.
Howard says his passion for the game makes him the right leader for the baseball team — and as a young coach, he can relate to his players.
“Leading the baseball program gives me an opportunity to do what I love to do, while also being part of a community for which I have a strong affinity,” Howard said. “IU Kokomo offers a phenomenal campus culture, a first-class education, and administrators who genuinely care about providing a quality student experience.”
Howard played baseball at Slippery Rock University, in Pennsylvania, and has been a college assistant coach at Ball State University and LaSalle University. He also played for the Traverse City Beach Bums and the Southern Illinois Miners, of the Frontier League.
The addition of Thatcher creates “a coaching duo that rivals any in the NAIA,” Cooper commented.
“Having Joe is a blessing for our program,” Howard said. “He’s going to be able to teach the aspects of pitching better than anyone. When you have someone who has played lots of innings in the big leagues, he commands respect right away.
“This truly is a dream come true. I am humbled and honored to be the first head baseball coach of the IU Kokomo Cougars,” he said.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana