TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State baseball coach Rick Heller is going home.
The Eldon, Iowa, native has taken the head-coaching job at the University of Iowa. The Iowa City school announced Friday via a press release that Heller accepted the position.
Iowa intends to formally name Heller at a press conference Monday. Heller could not be reached for comment, but he did comment via the Iowa press release.
“I am extremely proud and honored to be named the head baseball coach at the University of Iowa. This is a great day for me and my family. The opportunity to come back to the state and the challenge of turning the Iowa baseball program into a championship-caliber team is something I’ve dreamed about,” Heller said.
Heller has been ISU’s coach since 2009 and the Sycamores have been winners in each of his four seasons.
Heller compiled a 131-91 mark at ISU and is 692-563-4 in 26 years of coaching overall.
For ISU Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman, Heller’s departure is bittersweet. Prettyman loses one of his most successful coaching hires, but Prettyman also knows that Iowa was Heller’s dream job and he’s happy he was able to achieve his dream.
“I wish him well and it’s kind of his dream job. I don’t think he’d have gone anywhere else but Iowa. It’ll be a substantial financial boost for him and his family and he’s going for all of the right reasons. I think the world of Rick and I’m happy for his opportunity,” said Prettyman, who had particular praise for Heller’s ability to raise ISU’s baseball academic track record.
Prettyman said he was informed by Heller on Thursday night that he’d resign his ISU post for the one at Iowa. Heller accepted the job from Iowa late Thursday. Heller had interviewed at Iowa in June, so his announcement as Iowa’s coach was not a complete surprise, though Iowa’s process took nearly two months to complete.
Heller’s signature season was 2012 when the Sycamores won the Missouri Valley Conference championship outright for the first time in school history. ISU received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and competed in the Eugene Regional at the University of Oregon.
Heller played and coached for 12 years at Upper Iowa and gained Division I success at Northern Iowa, where he coached the Panthers from 1999 until UNI eliminated its program in 2009. Heller took Northern Iowa to the 2001 NCAA Tournament and won a MVC title at a school considered to be a baseball backwater.
Heller’s departure marks the second time in Prettyman’s tenure that he will have to replace a baseball coach late in the hiring cycle. Heller himself was hired late in the summer of 2009 when Lindsay Meggs took the job at the University of Washington.
“ISU will be a real attractive job. We’ve dedicated a lot of support to our facilities and to the program in general. I anticipate having high-level candidates. This is something a lot of people are interested in. I anticipate getting some really qualified people,” Prettyman said.
Prettyman noted that in the four hours after Heller’s departure to Iowa was made public, he had already received 35 résumés.
Per usual, Prettyman did not place a time frame on the hiring process. Unlike 2009, when public forums were conducted for the open position, Prettyman anticipates that this process will be kept in-house.
“I do not have a time frame. It’s too important to rush and at the same time I have to be diligent. I pour heart-and-soul into it when I search for a coach. We’re not going to rush it,” said Prettyman, who will interrupt his vacation for the search process.
“We’ll move it along as quick as we can. I don’t think we have the luxury of doing it with a wide-open process with public forums and that kind of thing. The young men on our team are waiting to see what’s going to go on. We have recruits we have to work with that I have to assure we get a quality head coach. I’m very confident we’ll come out smelling like a rose,” Prettyman added.
The new ISU coach will not only have the challenge of keeping current ISU players and maintaining and building upon what Heller did, but he also will have to spearhead ISU’s efforts to host the Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament in May 2014.
Iowa’s process was long and drawn out. At least three coaches — Saint Louis coach Darin Hendrickson, Texas A&M assistant Andy Sawyers and Austin Peay coach Gary McClure — took part and then pulled out of consideration. Creighton coach Ed Servais also was reportedly interviewed.
“Rick is the right individual to lead our program. The Big Ten has become increasingly more competitive in the sport of baseball in recent years. I am committed, and the athletics department is committed, to provide the tools and resources necessary to create a championship program,” Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta said.
It is the second time Heller was considered for the Hawkeyes’ job. He was a candidate in 2003 only to lose out to Jack Dahm, who was let go by the Hawkeyes in May.
Rick Heller at ISU
Year Record MVC place
2010 35-19 3rd
2011 29-28 6th
2012 41-19 1st
2013 26-25 6th
TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State baseball coach Rick Heller is going home.
- Local & Bistate
Indy developer interested in vacant ISU towers
The walls of Indiana State University’s Statesman Towers won’t be tumbling down anytime soon, despite a planned demolition that is now on hold.
Terre Haute gives out art grants
The City of Terre Haute backed its support of local arts organizations with funding on Wednesday, as grants totaling $21,500 were presented to seven nonprofit organizations.
The extra step: Feed company gets special certification
Graham Feed Co. in Terre Haute has attained a Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification from the American Feed Industry Association.
Otter Creek Twp. considering $1.5M bond
Otter Creek Township officials will conduct a public hearing today on a proposed $1.5 million bond issue to construct a new seven-bay firehouse to replace a current building in North Terre Haute that sits in a flood zone.
MARK BENNETT: Walk of Fame inductee would stand tall in any era
Unlike most of us, Amory Kinney didn’t let the wall around his comfort zone grow taller as time passed.
Networking at Schmooza Palooza event
The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce hosted its Schmooza Palooza, an annual Evening Networking Expo, on Wednesday at The Landing in Terre Haute. The event is part of Business After Hours and part Business Networking Expo.
Parks Dept. warns of heavy traffic
The Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Department is reminding residents of increased traffic during December in the area of Deming Park on the city’s east side.
City Council considering synthetic drug ordinance
The Terre Haute City Council will be looking tonight at a proposal designed to curb synthetic drug sales and access for minors to tobacco and drug paraphernalia.
Two charges with child neglect released from jail
Two individuals arrested recently for child neglect have been released from the Vigo County Jail and ordered to have no contact with their children.
Police seek help in solving homicide as anniversary approaches
Tips in an unsolved homicide are still being sought, as the one-year anniversary approaches in the death of a Sullivan County man.
Area Plan proposes change to city building code
The Vigo County Area Plan Commission on Wednesday voted to recommend a proposed amendment to the Terre Haute City Code to clarify requirements for new buildings that would be built in downtown Terre Haute in the future.
Indiana mayors will fight to keep business tax
Mayors from across Indiana are gearing up for a fight to preserve a state business tax that produces nearly $1 billion in annual revenue for local governments, libraries and schools.
Republican leaders in the Statehouse say getting rid of the business personal property tax would lure manufacturers and other big job-creators to the state. But a chorus of mayors say the loss of revenue would hit communities already struggling with the impact of state-imposed property tax caps.
Vigo County Jail Log: Dec. 4, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on jail records.
Indiana AFL-CIO ousts leader from right-to-work fight
TERRE HAUTE — The Indiana State AFL-CIO has elected a new president, replacing the labor union’s leader who directed its unsuccessful campaign to block passage of the state’s right-to-work law.
Be alert on I-70 for lane restrictions
CLAY/PUTNAM/VIGO COUNTIES – The Indiana Department of Transportation asks motorists to be alert for lane restrictions on I-70 through Dec. 14.
Tip reveals active meth lab
TERRE HAUTE — Acting on an anonymous tip, Indiana State Police troopers from the Putnamville Post Meth Suppression Team found remnants of an active meth lab on Tuesday in a residence in the 3000 block of North 15 1⁄2 Street.
Unsolved homicide approaching one-year mark
Tips in an unsolved homicide are being sought as the one-year anniversary approaches in the death of a Sullivan County man.
White wonder: Snow ‘just adds to atmosphere’ of Miracle on 7th Street
Snow showers are expected to blanket downtown Terre Haute on Friday – just in time for the holiday wonder of Miracle on 7th Street.
SMWC names sports complex after late Sister
The new Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Sports and Recreation Center will be named after the late Sister Jeanne Knoerle, the college’s 12th president.
Two Sullivan County school districts to get $1 million
Northeast and Southwest Sullivan school districts each will receive more than $1 million as part of a settlement in a federal securities fraud lawsuit.
State agency opposes limited unemployment benefits plan
A coalition of business and labor groups want Indiana legislators to expand unemployment benefits to partially furloughed workers, but the proposal faces opposition from the state agency that would implement it.
Buskirk pleads guilty for role in teen’s murder
A Greene County man appeared in court Tuesday morning to admit his involvement in the murder of a Linton teenager last summer.
Driver injured after swerving to avoid deer
A Jasonville man was injured in an early Tuesday crash south of Riley.
City man who led police on chase still loose
Authorities are still looking for a man who led police on a lengthy chase across the city Monday afternoon.
Bikes for Tykes needs donation
The Exchange Club of Terre Haute’s 16th annual Bikes for Tykes fundraiser needs donations to assist in providing bikes and helmets to Wabash Valley children.
I-70 westbound open again following evening crash
Interstate 70 west-bound, after being closed Tuesday due to an accident in Putnam County, opened again to traffic at about 7:30 p.m.
Vigo County Jail Log: Dec. 3, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Monday and Tuesday, based on jail records.
Driver injured after swerving to avoid deer, hitting tree
A Jasonville man was injured in an early morning crash today in Vigo County.
Riley firefighters responded to the scene on Louisville Road about 1.5 miles south of Riley.
Ley sentenced to 12 years for 2012 death of motorcyclist
“It’s very hard to find what justice should be,” said Vigo County Judge Michael Rader after listening to two hours of emotional testimony Monday in the case of Travis Ley, a Terre Haute man convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and causing the death of one young man and serious injuries to another.
Christmas lights set park aglow
Snoopy is ready to fight the Red Baron, and singing snowmen are playing hits by The Rolling Stones at this year’s Christmas in the Park in Deming Park.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Indy developer interested in vacant ISU towers