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Simonds excited about new challenge at Indiana

Dan Simonds called it “an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

He accepted an associate head coach position with Indiana University’s baseball program Monday, ending his eight-year run as Miami’s head coach.

“It was a very, very tough decision, but ultimately it was the best move for me, my family and my career,” Simonds said. “I’ve been at Miami for 13 wonderful years, but life is about experiences, and this gives me a new and very challenging experience.”

Simonds posted a 232-222 record during his time at the RedHawk helm. He did not win a Mid-American Conference championship in that stretch.

MU’s last MAC title came in 2005 under Tracy Smith, who moved on to Indiana after that campaign and took the Hoosiers to the College World Series last month. Simonds was a Miami assistant for five years (2000-04) under Smith, and they were also minor-league teammates.

“We’ve always been close,” said Simonds, who was 19-35 as the head coach at Xavier in 2005. “He lured me away from professional baseball when I was managing in the minor leagues with the Padres. He pretty much brought me to Miami. I knew nothing about Miami at the time.”

Simonds had one year remaining on his contract and met with athletic director David Sayler after the RedHawks finished 26-30 this year. Sayler laid out some lofty expectations for the program in 2014, though Simonds said that meeting had nothing to do with his decision to leave.

“The expectations were no different when Brad Bates was the athletic director,” Simonds said. “Believe me, my expectations were even higher.”

Asked to describe his eight years at the MU helm, the Boston native replied, “I think we accomplished quite a bit. We made the MAC tournament seven of the eight years. We averaged close to 30 wins. I’m very proud of how we turned out guys that graduated and were good ambassadors for Miami baseball out in the community.

“I’m not going to lie — I would’ve liked more championships. But we were in the mix, and I think the program is in a very good state right now. You’re never satisfied as a coach, but overall, I felt there were a lot of good things.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity and the people I got to work with at Miami. I could take hours listing all the people I was blessed to work with. It was a very, very special time for me.”

Simonds will act as hitting coach and work extensively with the catchers at IU. The Hoosiers were 49-16 this season and went 1-2 at the College World Series, while Smith was named Coach of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

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