MEQUON, Wis. – Following 30 seasons, which included 436 victories, a pair of Lake Michigan Conference titles and one trip to the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament, Dr. Val Keiper has announced he is stepping down as the head coach of the Concordia University Wisconsin Baseball program.
"I have been blessed to have had this opportunity lead CUW baseball for 30 years," Keiper said. "Coaching nearly 500 student-athletes has been a true honor and I hope I have in some way touched their lives, as they have touched mine."
Keiper began his tenure as head coach in 1982, the first time CUW had baseball since it was dropped for football in 1928. He led the team in the LMC until 2006 before the Falcons joined the Northern Athletics Conference prior to the 2007 season. In seven seasons in the NAC, Keiper helped guide the Falcons to the conference tournament three times, accomplishing the feat in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
"Dr. Keiper has been a mainstay in the athletic department for three decades and is the founding father of the baseball program, so we are indebted to him for his years of service and commitment to the mission of CUW," Director of Athletics Dr. Rob Barnhill said. "It is a bitter sweet time in the baseball program as the sun sets on Val's tenure as head coach, while the sun will rise on a new day in Falcon baseball."
"Val Keiper has been the name synonymous with Falcon baseball for three decades," said CUW President Rev. Dr. Patrick T. Ferry. "His contribution to the program has been absolutely tremendous and through his leadership he has positioned CUW baseball to take the next step in advancing the team"
Keiper's decision to step down will allow the athletic department to move in the direction of a full-time head coach for the Baseball program. Transitioning to full-time coaches has been an emphasis of Barnhill's vision for the athletic department over the past couple of years, as evident by other large roster sports (wrestling, volleyball) hiring full-time leaders recently.
"We have invested a significant amount of resources, both capital and human, in an effort to establish our baseball program as a regional stalwart and national contender," Barnhill said. "Val's resignation is in line with our vision to have full-time head coaches in our large roster sports and I am very pleased to have Val retained as an assistant. Should we reach our programmatic goals and one day find ourselves in pursuit of a national baseball title, it will be a great tribute to Val if he is a part of it."
The Falcons had a great deal of success under Keiper in the LMC, earning back-to-back conference championships in 1997 and 1998. From 1995 until exiting the league following the 2006 season, CUW finished fourth or better in the league standings in every season but one, while finishing in the top three six times.
"Baseball has always been and always will be an important part of my life," Keiper said. "Over the past 30 years I had the privilege of working with many great people including former President R. John Buuck and current President Rev. Patrick T. Ferry. The numerous Athletic Directors, including Dr. Rob Barnhill, have been a pleasure to work under as CUW continues to develop."
The 2004 season will always go down as a memorable one for the program, as Keiper led the Falcons to the LMC Tournament title, as well as a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time in program history.
He earned 436 of the program's 525 overall victories and led the Falcons to six 20-plus win seasons, including three-consecutive seasons from 2004-06.
"It is not easy stepping down as the head coach of the Falcons, but this is something that has to be done," Keiper said. "The success of the program and the University will continue to grow stronger and I look forward to helping the program in the future."
Keiper, who will continue to serve as a professor in the education department at CUW, will continue to work with the baseball program as an assistant coach under the direction of the new head coach.
"Val should be justifiably proud of his accomplishments and the legacy he has established," Ferry says "We are grateful that through his faculty role Val will continue to help fulfill Concordia's mission of "helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and world."