ASU baseball coach retires after 40 years

Published 12:05 am Thursday, May 28, 2009

LORMAN — With Alcorn State’s baseball season coming to an end with a loss in the SWAC Tournament championship game last Sunday, one might think that coach Willie “Rat” McGowan could finally take it easy.

After all, McGowan did announce his retirement last month and has coached his final game in the ASU dugout.

But McGowan’s retirement doesn’t take effect until June 30, and the coach is still working hard until then.

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“I’m recruiting and trying to find some ball players,” McGowan said on Wednesday. “We’ve got some good kids coming in. I’m going to be coaching until my last day. I want to leave the Alcorn baseball program competitive for the next coach. I think the team we’ll put together will be able to win a championship.”

And that is something McGowan’s final Alcorn team almost did. The Braves lost the opening game of the SWAC Tournament to Texas Southern before winning four straight games to advance to the championship game.

However, the Braves lost to Southern 12-10 to bring down the curtain on McGowan’s 40 years at the helm of the Alcorn baseball program.

“I’m real proud of the players. They did a good job,” McGowan said. “Not many teams get in the losers bracket and come back and win that many games. I told the players to hold their heads up. They have nothing to be down on themselves about.”

McGowan, who finished his career with 720 wins, said he made the decision that 40 years as the Braves head baseball coach was long enough.

“The reason I made my decision (to retire) is because I did a lot for Alcorn,” McGowan said. “There is nothing else I can do as a coach. I’ve been teaching and coaching for 48 years, and I just made the decision that it was long enough.”

McGowan spent eight years coaching and teaching in high schools before coming to Alcorn State in 1968.

He also was a coach for the football team for a time and taught as well.

“I helped a lot of kids not only in athletics, but in the classroom,” McGowan said. “I had my hands on a whole lot of people.”

McGowan said the decision to retire was his alone, and he will be around to give any assistance to the new coach.

“They know that anything they ask me to do that is for Alcorn, coach McGowan will do it,” he said. “I’ve been to no other university but Alcorn. I graduated there and played football and baseball. It’s home for me. Whatever they want me to do I’ll be there.”