Oregon State University has created its first endowed coaching position, funded through a $3 million gift from two longtime benefactors.

Funding positions through a specific endowment is common in higher education for faculty chairs or deans – and in fact, OSU announced an endowed dean Wednesday, as well – but endowing coaches is a relatively rare, and recent trend in collegiate athletics. 

The President and CEO of the OSU Foundation Mike Goodwin says donors Lee and Connie Kearney were admirers of Oregon State baseball coach Pat Casey, who coached the school’s team for 24 years.

At the time of his retirement, the University praised Casey as “the winningest coach in Oregon State Athletics history” with claims to 900 victories.  He brought home three national titles during his quarter century coaching in Corvallis. Casey acknowledged his success on his way out, but said his greatest accomplishment was helping his student-athletes mature into responsible adults.

Goodwin says after watching Casey’s coaching style at the College World Series in Omaha in 2017, the benefactors decided to endow a coaching position in his honor. 

The Kearneys were traveling and unavailable for comment.

Mitch Canham, a catcher on the Beaver’s 2006 and 2007 national championship teams, will be the first endowed Pat Casey Head Baseball Coach. Canham stepped into the role after Casey retired in the fall of 2018. 

A percentage of earnings from the endowment will be used to bolster the school’s baseball program, paying for “head coach compensation and retention, operating budget enhancements, and to meet other needs that will help maintain the competitive success of the team,” according to a release from the University.

Goodwin called it “a real shot in the arm” for the school’s program.

“It just further cements and enforces our commitment to compete at a very high level,” he said. 

The Kearneys donated another $3 million for an endowed deanship in OSU’s College of Engineering.