AKRON, Ohio – Rick Rembielak, a three-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year who has compiled more than 500 career wins at Wake Forest University and Kent State University, has been hired as the head baseball coach at The University of Akron, UA Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill announced Friday.
“Coach Rembielak is the perfect fit for our baseball program,” Wistrcill said. “He has extensive experience as a Division I head coach, is a proven winner in the MAC and has local ties to Northeast Ohio. We are pleased to hire someone of his caliber and welcome him and his family back to The University of Akron.”
Rembielak, a Cleveland native and 1988 graduate of UA, won four MAC regular season championships and three league tournament titles at KSU, where he remains the all-time winningest coach of any sport with a career record of 373-251-1 (.597).
Moreover, in 11 seasons as the Golden Flashes’ head coach, Rembielak was 200-100 (.667) against league members and led KSU to 11 consecutive MAC Tournament appearances. During that time, Rembielak produced seven MAC Pitchers of the Year and the MAC Player of the Year and MAC Freshman of the Year twice.
In his 16 seasons as a Division I head coach, Rembielak has had 35 players sign professional contracts, including pitcher John Van Benschoten, who was selected eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001.
“I feel very fortunate to be named the head coach at The University of Akron and to return to coaching in the MAC,” Rembielak said. “There are many people I owe a debt of gratitude, especially over the last two years. I also would like to thank everyone involved in the selection process, especially Tom Wistrcill and (Associate AD for Facilities and Operations and Baseball Sport Administrator) Paul Hammond, for their confidence in me. I am eager to hit the ground running as I feel there are many positive events occurring at Akron and within Zips Athletics in particular.”
In June of 2004, Rembielak became the 24th head baseball coach at Wake Forest, where he spent five seasons. His impact was immediate as the Demon Deacons showed remarkable improvement during his first season. Wake not only improved its win total from the previous campaign by 11 games, but also captured eight more victories in league play.
In 2007, Rembielak led Wake Forest to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002. The Deacons’ postseason bid was due in large part to their strong showing at the 2008 ACC Championship, where they became only the second No. 8-seeded team in league history to play in the title game.
Rembielak’s Wake Forest teams also excelled in the classroom. During his tenure, his team’s Academic Progress Report (APR) improved each season from 965 in 2005 to 983 in 2009. Rembielak’s 2009 team received special recognition for their academic success.
In all, Rembielak, who spent the 2010-11 season as a volunteer assistant at Georgia Tech under head coach Danny Hall, owns a record of 515-393-1 (.567) over a 16-year career as a Division I head coach. Last spring, the Ramblin’ Wreck finished their season with an overall record of 42-21, including a mark of 22-8 in the ACC.
“Akron has made a great hire,” Hall said. “Rembielak is a great coach and one of the reasons we had such a good year. Part of our success on the field can be attributed to the hard work he put in, day-in and day-out, with all of our players. He will definitely elevate the Akron program.”
Rembielak was a three-year letterwinning shortstop at Miami (Ohio) from 1979-81 where he helped lead the ball club to a 36-13-1 MAC record and a league championship (1979). In 1981, Rembielak was drafted in the 13th round by the Baltimore Orioles and played with teams affiliated with the O’s, Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers over five seasons.
A graduate of Central Catholic High School in Cleveland, Rembielak earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from UA in 1988 and a master’s degree in sports administration from Kent State in 1992. He is a member of the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame, the Stark County Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Central Catholic High School Hall of Fame. He was inducted in the Kent State Varsity “K” Hall of Fame in 2009.
Rembielak inherits an Akron club that went 16-37 in 2011, but was the victim of 15 one-run losses – including 11 one-run defeats in MAC play. The Zips will return in 2012 eight players who saw significant time in the field as well as all three starting pitchers from the weekend rotation.