Joe Raccuia’s reign as the baseball coach of his alma mater, Radford University, has come to an end.
Radford announced Raccuia’s resignation Thursday, one day after athletic director Robert Lineburg had told The Roanoke Times that Raccuia had been placed on administrative leave.
Raccuia, who steered the Highlanders for 12 seasons, said in a phone interview Thursday that he was not asked to resign.
The announcement comes just two weeks before the start of the fall semester.
“I don’t think any time is a great time to resign,” Raccuia, 47, said in the interview. “But when your family comes first … and maybe I wasn’t putting enough focus there, the most important time is now.
“My resignation … was a long time coming, a lot of different emotions that went into play over years.”
Lineburg and the assistant coaches had broken the news of Raccuia’s administrative leave to the players in a conference call two or three weeks ago, Highlanders first baseman J.D. Mundy had said Wednesday.
Raccuia was asked Thursday why he had been put on administrative leave.
“I don’t really have an answer to that question, except to say that I needed time to think about where I was going and where I wanted to be in the future and how to make it right for everybody that surrounds me,” Raccuia said.
Raccuia steered his alma mater to 348 wins and to the only two NCAA tournament appearances (2015 and 2017) in the program’s history.
“Anytime you can spend 12 years at one place, that’s a pretty solid career and one that I’ll look back fondly at,” he said. “I’m in a good place. I’m sad that I won’t coach the players that we worked hard to bring into the program and continued to develop, but I have to develop my kids and my family and put their time [as] more important than mine.”
Raccuia, who is divorced, has three children.
“I have three kids that are 14, 13 and 11. Three kids that have basically been born and raised with me as a head coach and me being on the road,” he said. “Being a head baseball coach, you’re still working at 11 o’clock at night, even though you’re home.
“I went through some personal things in the last few years. I’ve been separated and divorced. So I want to make sure that the times that I do have my kids, I want my time with them.
“It’s been a rough three personal years. It’s time to take care of the people that have taken care of me.”
After Raccuia was put on leave, Lineburg and other Radford officials had called Radford players to ask them about the program’s culture and about what kind of a coach Raccuia was, Mundy had said Wednesday.
What does Raccuia want people to know about the program’s culture?
“Anytime you coach, you’re never going to have everybody happy with you,” Raccuia said. “I gave everything I can to those guys. I care about them. I love them like they’re my kids.
“Every program always gets reviewed. All coaches get reviewed.
“I evaluate myself and the program every day. … We think about the players 24 hours a day. … That’s a taxing lifestyle. That’s why guys get burned out, they get stressed out and it’s time for new scenery, time for a change.”
Radford was 30-27 overall last season. It was Raccuia’s eighth winning season at the helm of the Highlanders, snapping a string of three straight losing seasons.
The Highlanders were 19-8 in Big South play last season, finishing second in the league standings.
“I’ve left Radford baseball in a really good position with a really good group of guys,” Raccuia said.
Raccuia won 406 games in 14 seasons as a head coach, including two years at Marist.
He said he will look at other coaching opportunities.
“I will look at every opportunity that will present itself, whether it be on the professional side, the college side, whether it’s out of baseball,” he said.
“When you start to get close to being 50 years old and have been a head coach for a while, … you start to change your perspective and you … start to look at what’s best for me personally. … You start thinking about maybe you want a weekend off. Maybe you want to be on the professional side.”
Radford first made the NCAAs in 2015, when it swept the Big South regular-season and tournament titles. Radford lost at Vanderbilt in an NCAA regional final in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Highlanders broke the school single-season records for overall wins (45) and Big South wins (20) that year, when they cracked the national polls for the first time. Raccuia was named the 2015 Big South coach of the year.
“Spending that time together in Nashville was a pretty cool time, coming from a program that never really had a lot of success,” he said. “But over 12 years, you have a lot of fond memories. The first game I ever coached at Radford [in 2008] is a fond memory because I’m an alum.
“Winning the Big South championship and beating the perennial power of Coastal Carolina [in the 2015 Big South final] and … our names being called on national television [on the NCAA tournament selection show]. Being ranked in the Top 25 and watching players graduate and watching players get drafted and watching players get into the big leagues. And players having kids. Building a facility from scratch with donors and friends.”
Radford built both a new baseball stadium and an indoor practice facility during Raccuia’s tenure.
“Joe has experienced a great deal of success in his professional career, including his long-standing tenure as a coach at his alma mater,” Lineburg said in a news release Thursday. “Joe is well-known for establishing a winning tradition for Radford’s baseball program. I wish him the best in all future endeavors.”
Lineburg could not be reached for comment.