The Utah Utes baseball program announced today the hiring of Jason Hawkins as associate head coach. Hawkins, who comes to Utah after three years as head assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara, will also serve as the team's hitting coach.
"I'm very excited about the chance to work with Jason," Utes head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "He comes to us with a wealth of experience, both as a head coach and as an assistant at his last job at UCSB. When I went into this search, we wanted to hire the best hitting coach that we could get, and someone with ties to the west coast for recruiting. Jason fits those things for us. He has been involved in a program that has improved to become a force in the west at Santa Barbara, and his recruiting ties will be extremely valuable for us. He will add a lot to our program not just as a coach, but as a person. I'm really excited about the opportunity to work with him."
Hawkins replaces Bryan Kinneberg, who was an assistant coach for the Utes for seven years.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to help the program continue to improve in any way I can," Hawkins said. "Coach Kinneberg and his staff are an awesome group of professionals, and I am eager to learn from them. The athletic tradition at Utah is something I'm looking forward to being a part of. Coaching in the Pac-12, one of the best conferences in the country, will be a challenge, but one that I am eager to tackle."
"It was difficult for me to leave Santa Barbara. Coach Checketts gave me my start in Division I baseball, and I will always be in debt to him for that. My time in Santa Barbara was tremendous, but my family is thrilled about moving to the Salt Lake area and becoming part of the Utah baseball family."
At UC Santa Barbara, Hawkins implemented and managed the offense and was responsible for skill development of all facets of the offence, catching, and outfield play. UCSB is coming off back-to-back 30-win seasons and was ranked as high as 10th nationally this past season by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. In 2013, the Gauchos earned an NCAA Regional berth for the first time since 2001 and finished tied for second in the Big West Conference. The UCSB offense improved each year under Hawkins in batting average, on-base percentage, and stolen bases. The team led the Big West in stolen bases all three years. In 2014, the Gauchos were 21st in the NCAA in stolen bases per game (1.65) and ranked second in the conference in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, doubles, and RBIs.
Six offensive players have been drafted out of UCSB over the last three seasons. Utility player Joey Epperson earned first-team All-America honors in 2014, ranking 14th in the NCAA in on-base percentage and was selected in the 13th round of the recent MLB Draft.
Hawkins received a bachelor's degree in English and history from Western Oregon State in 1995, and earned a master's in teaching with an emphasis in English from Pacific University in 1998.