Troy Buckley is out as head coach of the Long Beach State Dirtbags after being fired Thursday evening.
UPDATE (April 12, 11:05 p.m.) Multiple sources familiar with the university investigation into Buckley confirmed that he was terminated after a reported incidence of workplace violence. Following a recent baseball game Buckley is alleged to have gone after another university employee, having to be physically restrained from fighting.
The incident did not involve any student-athletes, according to sources. Those familiar with the investigation declined to speak on the record because of the confidential nature of the investigation.
UPDATE (April 12, 6:30 p.m.) The562.org has confirmed with multiple sources that Buckley was relieved of his duties at the conclusion of an investigation by the university. LBSU athletics director Fee said he can’t comment on any personnel moves in his department, but added that the university is not planning on self-reporting anything to the NCAA at this time. More coming as this develops.
Long Beach State put out this statement from Fee on Thursday evening:
“I met with Troy Buckley today and informed him of the decision to make a change in leadership within the baseball program. Additionally, I asked associate head coach Greg Bergeron and pitching coach Dan Ricabal to share head coaching duties for the remainder of the season. We thank coach Troy Buckleyfor his past service to the team, to the university, and to our remarkable baseball tradition even as he leaves Beach Athletics. We have a rich history, a powerful brand, and certainly amazing student-athletes. I am so proud of this program, I’m optimistic about our future, and I appreciate Coach Bergeron and Coach Ricabal for their leadership. We will begin a national search for a new permanent head coach in the coming weeks.”
Fee said on Friday that the university is not planning on self-reporting anything to the NCAA at this time.
Buckley was midway through his ninth season as head coach of the Dirtbags, and just two seasons removed from Big West Coach of the Year honors in 2017 when LBSU hosted a Super Regional. The Dirtbags had a winning record each of Buckley’s first seven seasons but were 27-30 last season and are currently on pace to have their worst season in decades.
The Dirtbags (5-26) started 0-10 this year, the worst opening to a season in program history, and are likely headed for their first season under 20 wins since John Gonsalves’ last season in 1988, when they went 14-45. The next year Long Beach State hired Dave Snow and ushered in the modern era of Dirtbags success.
The team opened Big West play 0-3 last weekend as they were swept by UC Irvine. They will host CSUN in a weekend conference series this weekend at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field with games on Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Buckley was the seventh coach of the program and finishes his tenure with a 260-231-1 record. He signed a four-year contract extension in August 2017 that would’ve kept him at LBSU until 2022.
Reached for comment Thursday evening, Fee said there were a number of factors that went into his decision.
“Making a change midseason is not an ideal scenario, but my responsibility is to the program, the university, and our student-athletes,” he said. “It’s not a decision I make lightly, especially midyear, and it’s not just based on one thing. It’s not just about wins and losses, it’s about many things. As a leader, you’re responsible for multiple facets of a program.”
Fee declined to discuss specifics because the firing was a personnel matter.
“We’re headed in a new direction obviously, and I’m optimistic about the future of the program,” he said. “We have great student-athletes, we have great people, we have a great community that has embraced our program and given it a lot of love.”
Fee said the decision was not made in order to give him a head start on finding a new coach.
“I didn’t even think about that in specifics,” he said. “I’m focused on the rest of this season. We have seven series left, that’s 21 games in conference and we have talent on this team.”
However, Fee said that finding a head coach that respects the Dirtbags tradition is paramount.
“I don’t ever want to close a door to anybody and limit our view,” Fee said. “But certainly an understanding of the university and diversity of the Dirtbags culture are going to be prominent requisites for this job.”
Buckley hasn’t responded to a request for an interview.
In late March after the Dirtbags outhit Cal State Fullerton in the nonconferece series opener, Buckley’s frustration with this season was obvious.
“Some if it you just shake your head,” he said. “I would sit there and wonder if we actually practice. We do. But it’s one of those things where you’re at a loss for words. You’re looking for small successes. You might get it, but its not manifesting into a team win.”