Feb. 25, 2012


Q&A with Pat Murphy


Pat Murphy was not only one of the top coaches in the Pac-10, but in all of college baseball. He posted a record of 318-116-1 (.732) in seven seasons at Notre Dame, leading the Irish to NCAA regional finals in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Murphy left and went to Arizona State, where he compiled a record of 629-284-1 in 15 seasons with the Sun Devils. He was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year four times and reached the College World Series four times. ASU was forced to vacate 44 wins and a CWS appearance from 2007 for NCAA violations. Murphy was forced out in November, 2009. ASU is also banned from postseason play in 2012.


Murphy recently took time to answer our questions.


1. Can you elaborate on the violations that ASU baseball committed and how they needed interpretations?

Phone Call Violations: Our staff’s 500 impermissible calls were because we documented poorly, my responsibility ultimately as the head coach. I never looked at the phone logs. They merely recorded when they made contact with a recruit. Again, over 420 of these calls were 1, 2 & 3 minutes from the time the phone was picked up. We use university phones, it wasn’t a matter of making extra calls. No assistant coaches ever received any penalty for this, and the phone call legislation has now changed. 


The Sandlot Program: Was open for all to see, well-publicized and continues today. No player failed to show up and still got paid. The problem was the documentation we had to prove that they worked four hours per week wasn’t sufficient. It was concluded they worked three hours and forty-five minutes, all player had to pay back any extra pay they received over this three-year period. It should be noted, players were paid no more than fifty dollars per week. Again, our poor documentation was not caught during the years of its existence; again, ultimately we are responsible for this.


Managers Doing Coaching Activities: This legislation was being interpreted differently by different conferences throughout the country. We were doing what many other programs were doing with their managers. Legislation has changed today and allows many managers to do many of these activities.


Recruitment of Student by Manager: This student-athlete and parents will tell you that they were not recruited by the manager, but ultimately it was my responsibility to know that this manager had had contact with a recruit and discussed his enrollment. Even though he had had a pre-existing relationship with the student no contact of any kind can be made. It should be noted, no inducements, or other illegal activity took place.


As you can see from these violations none are egregious. All of this was out in the open and had we known any of it violated rules we certainly wouldn’t have.


2. Which violations were out of control of the baseball department, and how could they have been avoided?

The violations regarding the strength and conditioning facility and regarding mid-year scholarship reductions, mostly deal with how a contract was written, and how a rule was interpreted by our compliance office. Although it was out of the control of the baseball program, and run through the proper channels, I know there was no intent by the compliance office to violate a rule.


3. What’s your reaction to ASU being banned from postseason play? What about the players, many of whom you recruited?

Doesn’t seem right but in the NCAA bylaws, it states specifically, the program involved in the most recent violations takes on the penalties in a repeat offender case. As far as the recruits…recruits can be recruited by one head coach, but they pick the program, so they are all ASU baseball recruits regardless of the coach.  Certainly I have great ongoing relationship with many juniors, sophomores, and freshman who our staff recruited.


4. What would you have changed or done differently while you were still the head coach at ASU as the investigation was unfolding?

After the Pac-10 and ASU’s internal investigators found these violations to be “isolated and inadvertent,” we went to the ‘09 World Series feeling the investigation was over. But because of ASU’s probation stemming from ’04, the NCAA came in. I was too aggressive and emotional in my responses to the NCAA, that was a big mistake. My attitude and approach ended up hurting me. I was so shocked by the pettiness of the violations to be called major. We were transparent, but a major doesn’t necessarily mean intentional or dishonest, simply means having happened over a long period of time, more than once in some cases. I’ve learned to let the lawyers handle such delicate situations.


5. Did you ever think you would be dismissed over the infractions?

Not many coaches have been dismissed over unintentional infractions. ASU was in a bad spot facing their second lack of institutional control. It’s how they chose to defend themselves in front of the NCAA. It was one of the opening lines at the hearing with the Committee on Infractions.


6. What have you learned from the experience? How can coaches learn from your experience, and what would be your advice to them?

I’ve learned A LOT. Surround yourself with solid people. I would tell other coaches be grateful for your opportunity to influence young people and focus on being an impact on those kids lives, in and out of baseball. As tough as this has been, I have grown tremendously as an individual. Sometimes as coaches we get so locked into our own situation that we don’t reach out to others in a similar situation and learn from them.


7. What are you doing these days?

Currently work for the San Diego Padres as Minor League Manager. The people have been great. I have learned a lot and grew in baseball. Last year I was in Eugene, Ore., our team led all short-season leagues with 46 wins and broke a 50-year-old record with 14 straight in the Northwest League.


8. Do you want to coach in college baseball again?

I would definitely consider college baseball. Nothing has spoke to me more than raising my son on a college campus.


9. We saw the University of Notre Dame honored you with an honorary monogram and named the clubhouse in the baseball stadium after you last May. How was that experience?

I was overwhelmed, totally shocked. I always dreamed of wearing the monogram jacket and to see your name on the clubhouse was surreal. It’s well-documented, my love for Notre Dame from an early age. To have the opportunity to coach there was an honor. To be recognized in any way by their athletic department, especially during this difficult time, is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me.


(photo courtesy of ASU Media Relations Office)