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Press Release for Monday, February 1, 2010

UNF Athletics Department To Name Baseball Field After Legendary Coach Dusty Rhodes

Jeff Wuerth

Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations

University of North Florida

(904) 620-4027

The University of North Florida Department of Athletics announced that the baseball field at Harmon Stadium will be named after ABCA Hall of Fame head coach Dusty Rhodes.  The new official name of UNF’s baseball complex will now be called Dusty Rhodes Field at Doug Harmon Stadium. 

The field will be dedicated at North Florida’s home baseball game vs. Alcorn State on Saturday, March 6, at 1 p.m.

“With this being Dusty’s final year, we wanted to do something to show our appreciation for the job he has done from forming a team and taking it from NAIA all the way to full Division I,” said Director of Athletics Lee Moon.  “He is a Hall of Fame coach with a ton of accolades and we felt as a university that this was a small way to pay homage to a man who literally built the program from scratch.”

Rhodes started UNF’s program from scratch at the NAIA level in 1988. He took that opportunity and built it into a national powerhouse en route to becoming one of the most successful coaches in college baseball history.

“I have been lucky to receive an opportunity that most people never get – to build a program from the ground up at a great academic school,” said Rhodes.  “Over the years, every day I enjoyed coming to work because I knew that I was coming to work with student-athletes.  We never really had exceptions for athletes while I was here.  The kids who came through our program turned out to be good people and a lot of them came back and did things for baseball.

“I had a chance to play some great teams over the years.  Our kids have played well and they have represented the University of North Florida well and that’s what we really tried to do.  It is always going to be my school and who I’ll be rooting for.  I have one more year and we are going to go out and play hard and see what happens.” 

Rhodes has guided UNF to 16 postseason appearances, including five trips to the College World Series (two in NAIA and three in NCAA Division II).  In January of 2009, he was chosen by his peers to be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 for his outstanding contributions as the head coach of Palm Beach Junior College. 

In 2005, Rhodes finished as the national runner-up in the Division II College World Series, falling in the championship game.  In his other four World Series appearances, Rhodes led the Ospreys to third place finishes out of eight participating teams. 

He has also pushed the Ospreys to six conference championships, seven No. 1 rankings (three in NAIA and four in Division II) and has coached 22 All-Americans while compiling an 879-420 record at UNF and an overall mark of 1,182-538 in 30 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

After an extraordinary NCAA Division II resume, Rhodes upped the ante and continued to build the UNF empire into a rising star and giant killer in Division I. Since the Ospreys began their Division I march in 2006, UNF has recorded nine victories over ranked teams; owns a 4-3 record against in-state rival and SEC power Florida; put itself in position to qualify for the Atlantic Sun Tournament every year; compiled a 59-45 record at home; and boasted nine all-conference performers. 

Last season, Rhodes led the Ospreys to wins over No. 6 Florida State, No. 13 Miami and No. 23 Florida, marking the first time in school history that UNF recorded wins over all three of those state schools in the same season. 

In his illustrious career, Rhodes has been recognized as his conference or district’s coach of the year eight times.  In the Peach Belt Conference, he earned coach of the year honors in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005. When the Ospreys played in District 25 in NAIA, he was named coach of the year in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1992.

He also earned his region’s coach of the year honor in 2000, 2001 and 2005, after leading UNF to the Division II World Series each year. In 1989 and 1991, he was tabbed the Rawlings NAIA Area V Coach of the Year.

In addition to his success in the college game, Rhodes has been heavily involved in international amateur baseball.  In 2004, Rhodes was selected as the head coach of the Greek Olympic team at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.  Rhodes returned to serve as the head coach of the Greek National Team in the 2005 European Championships. He was also an assistant for Greece in 2002 and 2003 and also served as an assistant coach for the 1996 Australian Olympic Team. In 1993, 1994 and 2001, he was an assistant coach for the USA National Team.

Rhodes has also been named the Florida Diamond Club NAIA Coach of the Year four times (1988, 1989, 1991 and 1992), the Diamond Sports Co. Area Coach of the Year twice (1989 and 1991) and the Florida Sports Amateur Coach of the Year in 2001.

Rhodes began coaching in 1969 as an assistant coach at Florida Southern College, his alma mater. He joined PBJC as an assistant in 1974 and was named head baseball coach in 1975. During his seven years there, Rhodes compiled a record of 303-118, leading the school to a No. 1 national junior college ranking in 1979. He was named a junior college All-Star coach in 1976, 1977 and 1980.

Between 1982 and 1987, Rhodes was an assistant baseball coach at the University of Florida, before being selected to begin the UNF baseball program.

Rhodes received an associate of arts degree from PBJC in 1966, a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Florida Southern College in 1969 and a master’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic in 1973. He taught physical education in Palm Beach County from 1969-1975.