Washington found its future in the program’s past.
Former UW pitching coach Jason Kelly will succeed Lindsay Meggs as the Huskies’ next head coach, the university announced Friday. The hire is pending approval of the university’s standard background check.
“My family and I could not be more excited to be heading back to Seattle,” Kelly said in a release. “The University of Washington has always been home to us. I would like to give a special thank you to President (Ana Mari) Cauce, Jen Cohen and Kim Durand for entrusting me with this incredible opportunity. I am proud to be a Husky, and can’t wait to get to work. Go Dawgs!”
Kelly — who spent a single season as Louisiana State’s pitching coach in 2022 — was named D1Baseball.com’s National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2018, when he helped the Huskies reach the College World Series for the first time in program history. (UW was later forced to vacate all 2018 wins, however, after the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions ruled that the program provided impermissible recruiting benefits to players’ parents.)
In seven seasons (2013-19) in Seattle, Kelly developed 15 MLB draft selections, while Washington earned three NCAA tournament berths — after mustering only one such berth in 13 seasons before Kelly’s arrival. His UW accomplishments also include a top-10 recruiting class in 2017. A year prior, he oversaw the development of Husky ace Troy Rallings, a first-team All-American and the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year.
In 2014, UW achieved its highest national ranking (No. 5) in team history, via Baseball America, Perfect Game and Collegiate Baseball. The Huskies’ 3.11 team earned-run average ranked third in the Pac-12 and was the program’s lowest since 1985.
“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Jason Kelly and his family back to Montlake as our next head baseball coach,” UW athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement. “JK was an integral part of the success our teams experienced on our historic run to Omaha in 2018. He is an elite recruiter with strong ties to the West Coast and Pacific Northwest, and has significant experience in the Pac-12 and SEC that will be an incredible asset.
“He has a great deal of pride for this University and the Seattle community, and is hungry to have the Huskies competing again at the highest level. He will embrace the history we have, as well as our amazing alumni, and I can’t wait to have him get started.”
Meggs, meanwhile, announced his retirement last week after 35 years coaching college baseball and 29 as a head coach, the final 13 coming on Montlake. He compiled 932 career wins, including 317 at UW, ending with a 2022 campaign in which the Huskies went 30-26 and capped the regular season with 12 consecutive wins. But UW still went just 59-62 in three seasons after Kelly left the program in 2020 for a two-year stint as the pitching coach at Arizona State.
In Kelly’s first season in Tempe, Arizona, in 2020, the Sun Devils lowered their team ERA from 4.93 to 3.56. A year later, they achieved an NCAA tournament berth despite injuries to the program’s three weekend starters as well as its closer. And in his lone season at LSU this spring, the Tigers went 40-22 (17-13 in the SEC) before falling to Southern Miss in the NCAA Regionals.
Before arriving at UW in 2013, Kelly served as the pitching coach at Cal Poly for six seasons, producing two pitchers who were selected in the top five rounds of the MLB draft in 2007. His 2011 staff recorded the best ERA in the school’s 17-year existence as a Division I program. He helped lead Chico State to back-to-back Division II College World Series berths in 2005 and 2006 as well.
Prior to embarking on a coaching career, Kelly — a product of St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria, California — pitched at Cal Poly (1999-2000), Cuesta College (2001) and Missouri Valley College (2002). He’ll be joined in Seattle by his wife Tracy, daughter Peyton (14) and son Cade (12).
In his first collegiate head-coaching position, Kelly will attempt to build a future that exceeds the program’s past.