June 27, 2012
HOUSTON - Rice head coach Wayne Graham will be inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Tex., on Saturday (June 30).
After leading the Owls to a 41-19 overall record and the Conference USA regular season championship in 2012, Graham earned his fifth C-USA Coach of the Year award. His Owls have won or shared a total of 17 consecutive conference titles (including the regular season and/or conference tournament) spanning Rice's membership in three different leagues. In addition to 18-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, he has guided Rice to 18-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. The 2003 NCAA bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship. Graham's all-time record at Rice is 953-380 (.715).
"It's a unique event and I appreciate the honor very much," said coach Graham. "(With an honor of this magnitude) you think about who helped get you there. The players who have performed well to allow you to have some success, but also my wife and family who have had to make a lot of sacrifices to make it possible for this to happen. I'm very grateful for everyone who has been involved.
"It's a great honor to be associated with the other members of this Hall of Fame class," coach Graham added. "They are great baseball-people with a love and talent for the game."
The other 2012 Hall of Fame inductees include Lou Brock, a Major League Hall of Famer who was a collegiate star at Southern University from 1958-60; Ed Cheff, who won 16 NAIA national championships coaching at Lewis Clark State from 1977-2010; Nomar Garciaparra, a three-time All-America selection at Georgia Tech who went on to make six all-star games during a 14-year major league career; Tim Jorgensen, a two-time Division III National Player of the Year and All-American at Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Brad Wilkerson, a three-time All-America selection and 1998 National Player of the Year from the University of Florida; and the late Frank Sancet, who coached at Arizona for 23 seasons where he led the Wildcats to the College World Series ten times.
Under Graham Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. Graham won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09 and `11. He was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03.
Graham was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08, `10 and `12. Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under his leadership (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08). Graham has led the Owls to No. 1 rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003, three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07.
Prior to Rice Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90). The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance. Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century.
Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan, who is a national board member of the College Baseball Foundation, said Graham's induction is well-deserved.
"Wayne Graham's accomplishments throughout his career are obviously worthy of a place in the College Baseball Hall of Fame," Greenspan said. "His accomplishments at San Jacinto were legendary on their own merits and in his 21 seasons at Rice, he has created an exemplary program that has been dominant on the field and in the classroom."
For more information on the College Baseball Hall of Fame, visit www.CollegeBaseballHall.org.