After his University of Utah baseball team defeated rival BYU 11-5 last Wednesday to take the season series 3-1 with the Cougars, coach Bill Kinneberg declined to sum up his 18th season coaching the Utes, saying there would be a better time for that later.
That time came Monday, as the longtime coach announced his decision to retire at the end of this season after 37 years in the sport, including 18 with the Utes during two stints. Utah (16-31, 6-21 Pac-12) concludes its season this week with games Thursday, Friday and Saturday against USC at Ogden’s Lindquist Field.
Kinneberg was the Pac-12 coach of the year after the Utes won the league championship in 2016, but has been unable to get the team back to the NCAA Tournament since. Utah also went to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 when it was a member of the Mountain West Conference, its first trip to the Big Dance since 1960.
Kinneberg won 381 games at Utah and 625 during his head coaching career.
“There are so many people in my life that I need to thank, starting with (former U. athletic director) Dr. Chris Hill, who believed in me twice, hiring me in 1995 and then again in 2004,” Kinneberg said in a school news release. “Also, thank you to (current AD) Mark Harlan, who has allowed me to coach these last three years under his guidance.
“To all the assistant coaches for their tireless work and for their loyalty to me and the program, I can’t thank you enough,” Kinneberg continued. “Thanks to the Utah baseball fans for their support of me and the student-athletes all of these years. The support staff within the athletic department are so generous with their time and effort and are such a pleasure to work with. I will miss them all.
“But, the group I will always be indebted to and miss the most are all the student-athletes who played for me over the years, going back to UTEP, Wyoming, Arizona State, University of Arizona and the University of Utah. They have touched my life in so many ways and given me so many thrills that I will never forget.”
Kinneberg also thanked his parents, his siblings and his wife, Janet, and their sons, Joe and David.
“They have enjoyed the journey with me but have sacrificed so much for me over the years. I am anxious for the next chapter of my life, spending time with my family, traveling, playing some golf, but most of all, being the best Ute fan I can be. Thanks for everything the university has done for me and my family.”
Kinneberg has also been a head coach at UTEP (1985) and Wyoming (1986-92) preceding his head coaching stints at Utah (1996, 2005-21). He was the WAC Coach of the Year at Wyoming.
“First and foremost, I want to congratulate Bill on a remarkable career,” Harlan said. “His care for his students has been second to none. I worked with Bill and was fortunate to know him back in the day when we both worked at the University of Arizona, and I am grateful to have worked with him again here at Utah for the last three years. He is a terrific coach but an even better person.”
According to the release, 11 of Kinneberg’s Utah players have been drafted in the first 10 rounds, including C.J. Cron, the first Ute drafted in the first round in program history. He was selected 17th overall in 2011.
Cron, Stephen Fife (third round, 2008) and Tyler Wagner (fourth round, 2012) have all reached the majors.
Kinneberg also worked with USA Baseball as the head coach of the U.S. National Team that won a silver medal at the FISU World University Championships in Japan in 2010. He also served as a pitching coach for USA Baseball.