HOUSTON – Change is coming to the Rice University baseball program after a disappointing 2021 season.
Rice’s Director of Athletics, Recreation and Lifetime Fitness Joe Karlgaard announced on Monday he has relieved head baseball coach Matt Bragga of his duties after the Owls concluded the 2021 season with a 23-29-1 record and failed to reach the conference tournament for the first time since 1993.
“Matt Bragga is a dedicated coach who brought a track record of success with him to Rice,” Karlgaard said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t seen enough improvement in our program for us to move forward together. We thank him for his efforts to bring Rice baseball back to the postseason and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
Bragga compiled a 51-76-1 record in three seasons with the Owls and has a career mark of 497-468-3. His first team finished with a 26-33 record, including wins over TCU & Baylor, winning the Silver Glove Series with Houston and posting a 2-2 record at the C-USA tournament. The Owls opened the 2020 season facing the 11th toughest non-conference schedule in the country and were 2-14 when the season shut down due to the pandemic.
In his first two seasons, he produced three draft picks in the first five rounds of the major league draft: Matt Canterino (Twins, 2nd round) and Evan Kravetz (Reds, 5th round) were selected in 2019 and Trei Cruz (Tigers, 3rd round) was drafted after the shortened 2020 season.
Bragga came to Rice in 2018, succeeding the legendary Wayne Graham, after leading Tennessee Tech to within one game of the College World Series. He coached at Tennessee Tech for 15 seasons, building the program into a perennial power in the Ohio Valley Conference and winning coach of the year honors four times.
He led the Golden Eagles to six OVC championships and three NCAA appearances while winning over 40 games in four of six seasons from 2013-18. His 2018 Tennessee Tech team won a school and conference record 53 games and advanced to its first super regional appearance, falling to Texas in the decisive third game.