JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – University of North Florida head baseball coach Dusty Rhodes announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2010 baseball season in a press conference on Monday, Aug. 24.
Rhodes, who founded the UNF baseball program, will step aside after 23 seasons as head coach of the Ospreys. In addition, UNF also announced that Raymond “Smoke” Laval will take over as the new head baseball coach at the end of the 2010 season.
“With more than 1,100 wins to his credit, Dusty is definitely among a prestigious group of coaching legends,” said UNF President John A. Delaney. “It’s been an honor to work with him and see him bring the University’s baseball program to full Division I status. Dusty has been an icon in baseball at UNF since 1988 and is truly going to be missed.”
“You just can’t say enough about Dusty Rhodes and what he has meant to baseball at UNF and in the state of Florida,” remarked Director of Athletics Lee Moon. “He built the Osprey baseball program from scratch and guided it with tremendous success through NAIA, Division II and now into a full-fledged Division I member playing for championships.
“Dusty guided UNF to five different College World Series appearances and even more regional appearances, but even more than that, he has molded and shaped our student-athletes into men who succeed, not only on the playing field, but in the classroom and in life. Dusty is the epitome of UNF baseball and a true Osprey. He will be missed.”
Rhodes started UNF’s program from scratch at the NAIA level in 1988. He took that opportunity and built it into a national powerhouse en route to becoming one of the most successful coaches in college baseball history.
“I have been lucky to receive an opportunity that most people never get – to build a program from the ground up at a great academic school,” said Rhodes. “Over the years, every day I enjoyed coming to work because I knew that I was coming to work with student-athletes. We never really had exceptions for athletes while I was here. The kids who came through our program turned out to be good people and a lot of them came back and did things for baseball.
“I really want to thank Tom Healy the athletic director that hired me. I would also like to thank Adam Herbert and John Delaney because they had the vision to move this athletic program up. I probably would have left if they would not have said that we were going to gradually move this program to Division I. The whole deal for me was to get here, start a program, and move it to Division I. We have accomplished that part. We had opportunities to win a National Championship. Our kids played well. We had guys that came through here that played in the Major Leagues. For me, it was a great opportunity that a lot of people wouldn’t have to take it from the very beginning to Division I. For that reason, I will always be in debt to UNF, especially the boosters, Dottie Dorion, Dave Polovina, Gerry Hurst, and Doug and Linda Harmon. Those people made the athletic program when we were NAIA. They set the example for what we should be and that’s basically turned out to be exactly what we are.
“I had a chance to play some great teams over the years. Our kids have played well and they have represented the University of North Florida well and that’s what we really tried to do. It is always going to be my school and who I’ll be rooting for. I have one more year and we are going to go out and play hard and see what happens.”
Rhodes has guided UNF to 16 postseason appearances, including five trips to the College World Series (two in NAIA and three in NCAA Division II). In January of 2009, he was chosen by his peers to be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 for his outstanding contributions as the head coach of Palm Beach Junior College.
In 2005, Rhodes finished as the national runner-up in the Division II College World Series, falling in the championship game. In his other four World Series appearances, Rhodes led the Ospreys to third place finishes out of eight participating teams.
He has also pushed the Ospreys to six conference championships, seven No. 1 rankings (three in NAIA and four in Division II) and has coached 22 All-Americans while compiling an 879-420 record at UNF and an overall mark of 1,182-538 in 30 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
After an extraordinary NCAA Division II resume, Rhodes upped the ante and continued to build the UNF empire into a rising star and giant killer in Division I. Since the Ospreys began their Division I march in 2006, UNF has recorded nine victories over ranked teams; owns a 4-3 record against in-state rival and SEC power Florida; put itself in position to qualify for the Atlantic Sun Tournament every year; compiled a 59-45 record at home; and boasted nine all-conference performers.
Last season, Rhodes led the Ospreys to wins over No. 6 Florida State, No. 13 Miami and No. 23 Florida, marking the first time in school history that UNF recorded wins over all three state schools in the same season.
In his illustrious career, Rhodes has been recognized as his conference or district’s coach of the year eight times. In the Peach Belt Conference, he earned coach of the year honors in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005. When the Ospreys played in District 25 in NAIA, he was named coach of the year in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1992.
He also earned his region’s coach of the year honor in 2000, 2001 and 2005, after leading UNF to the Division II World Series each year. In 1989 and 1991, he was tabbed the Rawlings NAIA Area V Coach of the Year.
In addition to his success in the college game, Rhodes has been heavily involved in international amateur baseball. In 2004, Rhodes was selected as the head coach of the Greek Olympic team at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. Rhodes returned to serve as the head coach of the Greek National Team in the 2005 European Championships. He was also an assistant for Greece in 2002 and 2003 and also served as an assistant coach for the 1996 Australian Olympic Team. In 1993, 1994 and 2001, he was an assistant coach for the USA National Team.
Rhodes has also been named the Florida Diamond Club NAIA Coach of the Year four times (1988, 1989, 1991 and 1992), the Diamond Sports Co. Area Coach of the Year twice (1989 and 1991) and the Florida Sports Amateur Coach of the Year in 2001.
Rhodes began coaching in 1969 as an assistant coach at Florida Southern College, his alma mater. He joined PBJC as an assistant in 1974 and was named head baseball coach in 1975. During his seven years there, Rhodes compiled a record of 303-118, leading the school to a No. 1 national junior college ranking in 1979. He was named a junior college All-Star coach in 1976, 1977 and 1980.
Between 1982 and 1987, Rhodes was an assistant baseball coach at the University of Florida, before being selected to begin the UNF baseball program.
Rhodes received an associate of arts degree from PBJC in 1966, a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Florida Southern College in 1969 and a master’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic in 1973. He taught physical education in Palm Beach County from 1969-1975.
The Dusty Rhodes File
Full Name: Jack Dusty Rhodes
Hometown: Talladega, Ala.
1966: Associate of Arts, Palm Beach Junior College
1969: Bachelor’s in Physical Education, Florida Southern
1973: Master’s in Education, Florida Atlantic
1965-66: Palm Beach Junior College
1967-68: Florida Southern
1969-73: Assistant Coach, Florida Southern
1975: Assistant Coach, Palm Beach Junior College
1976-81: Head Coach, Palm Beach Junior College
1982: Hitting Coach, Greensboro Hornets
1982-87: Assistant Coach, Florida (1982-87)
1988-89: Manager, Helena Brewers
1990: Assistant Coach, Beloit Brewers
1991: Manager, Helena Brewers
1988-present: Head Coach, North Florida
1988: Florida Diamond Club NAIA Coach of the Year
1989: NAIA District 25 Coach of the Year
1989: NAIA Area V Coach of the Year
1989: Florida Diamond Club NAIA Coach of the Year
1991: NAIA District 25 Coach of the Year
1991: NAIA Area V Coach of the Year
1991: Florida Diamond Club NAIA Coach of the Year
1992: Florida Diamond Club NAIA Coach of the Year
1999: Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year
2000: ABCA South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year
2000: Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year
2001: ABCA South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year
2001: Florida Sports Amateur Coach of the Year
2001: Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year
2004: Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year
2005: ABCA South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year
2005: Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year
2009: ABCA Hall of Fame Inductee
1989: NAIA World Series
1991: NAIA World Series
2000: NCAA Division II World Series
2001: NCAA Division II World Series
2005: NCAA Division II World Series; NCAA Division II Runner-Up
22 All-Americans; 5 Academic All-Americans
58 Major League Baseball signees
16 Conference Championships
7 No. 1 Rankings (3 in NAIA and 4 in Division II)