CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia baseball head coach Brian O’Connor announced on Friday (Sept. 13) the hiring of Drew Dickinson as an assistant coach. Dickinson, who spent the last eight seasons as an assistant at Illinois, will serve as the team’s pitching coach.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Drew and his wife Michelle to the University of Virginia baseball family,” O’Connor said. “Over the past few weeks, we have conducted an extensive national search and Drew has all the qualities we were looking for in a pitching coach. During his time at Illinois, he has proven himself as one of the top pitching coaches in all of college baseball.
“Drew’s background as an elite pitcher at the collegiate and professional level was a result of hard-work and understanding for the game of baseball. His commitment to development as a player propelled Drew to be one of the best pitchers in Illinois baseball history, and that same attitude has carried over for him into coaching, as he has consistently shown the ability to recruit and develop talent.”
Dickinson helped the Illinois pitching staff to an unprecedented amount of success during his tenure. Under his guidance, the Illini established school single-season records for ERA and strikeouts. Dickinson has coached two Big Ten Pitchers of the Year, 15 MLB Draft picks (including two first rounders) and four-All-Americans. The success on the mound helped Illinois win 60.3 percent of its games over the last six years (202-133-1), one of the Illini’s best runs ever.
“I believe we have found a dynamic, young baseball mind who will fit great into all of the standards that we have set in the Virginia baseball program,” O’Connor said. “I know our players and staff are excited to welcome Drew to our program and look forward to going to work together.”
“It was going to take an incredible opportunity to pull me away from home in Champaign,” Dickinson said. “The chance to be the pitching coach at a national championship program and an elite academic institution based in such a great city, is that rare opportunity. I want to thank Coach O’Connor, Carla Williams, and the rest of the Cavalier community. I can’t wait to get to work.
“I’d be remiss not to acknowledge (Illinois head coach) Dan Hartleb for the impact he has had on my career. I had the great honor of pitching for him at Illinois and he gave me my start in coaching first as a volunteer and eventually he entrusted me to be the pitching coach of a Super Regional team, I am forever indebted to him.”
Illinois has developed a postseason pedigree over the past nine seasons, qualifying for four NCAA Tournaments and the 2015 NCAA Super Regionals. The Illini were crowned Big 10 Champions in 2015 after posting a 50-10 overall record with a 20-1 mark in league play. In that season, Dickinson’s pitching staff led the way with nation’s fifth-lowest team ERA (2.55), fourth-lowest walk/hits per innings pitched (1.13) and fifth-lowest strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Following a seven-year professional career, Dickinson began his coaching career as volunteer assistant on the Illini staff while finishing his communications degree at Illinois in 2009. After a brief stint as a pitching coach in professional baseball, he returned as the Illinois volunteer assistant before being promoted to assistant coach in 2012.
One of the best pitchers in Illinois history, Dickinson was selected in the 28th round by the Oakland Athletics in the 2002 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He was a two-time, third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball (2001 & 2002) and named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year as a junior. His 30 career wins are the most ever at Illinois and Dickinson ranks in the top-five in school history in career-conference wins (2nd), career strikeouts (3rd), single-season strikeouts (3rd & 5th) and career innings pitched (5th).
Dickinson was a two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection and reached the double-A level with the Oakland A’s. He was a 2003 Midwest League all-star and was named a Top 25 Prospect in the A’s system in 2004.