Sports

Rittman resigns as Stanford's head softball coach

John Rittman has resigned his position as the head softball coach at Stanford University, athletic director Bernard Muir announced Monday.

Stanford will begin a national search to fill the position.

The Cardinal went 30-25 this season, marking the 18th consecutive year Stanford recorded a winning record. However, the Cardinal was 5-19 in the Pac-12 and finished eighth out of nine softball-playing schools in the conference. Thus, Stanford was not among the 64 teams for the NCAA Tournament, missing the postseason for the first time in 17 years.

Stanford's season was marred by an unusual amount of injuries, especially to the pitching staff. The Cardinal also lost a top pitcher, who transferred.

There also rumors swirling on the internet about a rash of players who have quit over the years, current parents disgruntled over a lack of playing time for their daughters and other allegations to which no proof has been offered as of yet.

Stanford boasted victories against seven teams selected to the tournament, including UCLA, Washington, San Diego State, Northwestern, BYU, NC State and Bradley.

Stanford's new coach will have a strong foundation next year, including all 10 starters.

Under Rittman, Stanford made two appearances in the College World Series (2001, 2004), five appearances in an NCAA super regional(2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011), 16 regional appearances and captured a conference title in 2005.

His teams had 13 40-win seasons and produced at least one All-American for 15 straight years.

While coaching for 18 years at Stanford, Rittman also served as a member of the United States National Team coaching staff from 2001-08 and was part of the United States softball teams at the Olympics in Athens (gold medal) and Beijing (silver).

Rittman is the second Stanford coach to resign in less than a week. Cardinal men's tennis coach John Whitlinger stepped down last Thursday after being with the program 31 years. In addition, Cardinal diving coach Dr. Rick Schavone announced his retirement in April.

— Stanford Athletics/Palo Alto Online Sports

Comments

Posted by Duster, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Coaching student athletics can be both a rewarding and thankless job at the same time. Superficially, everyone wants to have "fun". In reality, a coach is ALWAYS expected to produce a winning team. That's what the parents want, that's what the players want and that's what the school wants. This is an extremely difficult task when the talent to do so may not be available within a given season. A coach has to walk the political tightrope. In addition to satisfying the agenda of the athletic director, the coach has to deal with the alumnae, "legacy" players, friends or relatives of a player, (especially those who are the benefactors of the school or athletic program). Most importantly, the players who need more development and would be benefit the team, are not often given the attention because of either budget cuts or the time devoted to satisfying the needs of the "entitled" players.
Rittman is a great coach and he has been able to deal with all these distractions while producing winning teams and culturing respectable and upstanding young athletes.
Lastly, why is the author of this article itemizing and propagating unsubstantiated rumors---especially those he or she culled off the internet?


Posted by Cardinal Fan, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 2, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Rittman is a great coach who passed up too many players qualified to play ball at Stanford. Sorry that he's leaving.


Posted by Eric S., a resident of Southgate
on Jun 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Excellent comments, Duster. Maybe Coach Rittman resigned in part due to exactly the type of unsubstantiated rumors you mention.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm

If you go on some of the message boards, there are Stanford "parents" making comments regarding problems. Obviously, some folks are probably unhappy their little girls aren't playing enough, but perhaps the story runs deeper. Good coaches like Rittman rarely just up and retire when they have plenty of years yet to offer. One person mentioned more than a half dozen girls who had quit the team in recent years. Unfortunately, the real reason for him leaving probably will never be known.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 4, 2014 at 11:49 am

I'm constantly amazed at how the parents of D1 college athletes think that they still can bully or lobby coaches as if it was AYSO or some 14U volleyball club.

When your kid goes to college, it is time to let them stand up for themselves and to start behaving like adults. Support your kid, give them advice and be the best advocate there is...but parents should have direct access to coaches at this level. Ridiculous.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 4, 2014 at 11:51 am

oops...

Support your kid, give them advice and be the best advocate there is...but parents should *NOT* have direct access to coaches at this level. Ridiculous.


Posted by Fox, a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 10:28 am

Its a sad day in the sports world when you see quality coaches like Coach Rittman have to step down due to influences that probably have nothing to do with coaching softball and creating great student-athletes. Unfortunately, these types of situations are more and more common and it is driving many good coaches out of the profession. We do it not just for the money but because we truly feel a passion for our sport and we love sharing it each year with a new group of talented young women. Stanford's LOSS and his next school's GAIN....


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