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Penn State AD Pat Kraft not settling for status quo with latest home run hire

With his latest hire, Pat Kraft is putting his efforts to put Penn State at the pinnacle of college athletics on full display.



Pat Kraft, Penn State football, NIL
Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions coach James Franklin wears a No. 34 jersey in the memory of Franco Harris (left) while posing with vice president of intercollegiate athletics Dr. Patrick Kraft during the 109th Rose Bowl Game. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday morning, Penn State AD Pat Kraft announced the hiring of Mike Gambino as the new Penn State baseball head coach. With a proven track record, Gambino looks to bring his history of sustained success to the baseball diamond in Happy Valley. More importantly, the latest hire displays Kraft’s commitment to building winning programs across the landscape of Penn State athletics.

Pat Kraft brings proven success to Penn State baseball with the hiring of Mike Gambino

Long-time Penn State baseball coach Rob Cooper announced his resignation from the position at the end of the 2023 season in May. After a disappointing 25-25 record, Cooper expressed that it was time for the program to find a new steward. Penn State AD Pat Kraft seized the opportunity, returning to his days at the helm of Boston College’s athletics department by hiring Gambino.

In 13 seasons at Boston College, Mike Gambino ranks second on the Eagles’ all-time wins list with 291 victories. In 2023, Boston College tied the program record with 37 wins, including a victory over No. 2 Tennessee en route to the Tuscaloosa Regional final in the NCAA Tournament. Gambino led the Eagles to two NCAA Super Regional appearances in the last decade (2016 and 2022). In addition, Gambino sent 33 players to the MLB draft in his time at Boston College.

“I am thrilled to welcome Mike and his family to Happy Valley as our new baseball coach,” Kraft said in a statement released by Penn State Monday. “We worked with Mike at Boston College and know how he grows a program to find success on a national stage. Mike guided BC to the best season in program history this past season, which is impressive in a conference with historical baseball success like the ACC. Mike is a tremendous teacher and has a track record for developing players’ skills to prepare them for the next level. He has an impressive 33 Major League Draft picks in his first 12 years as a head coach. We are excited to have Mike, Jill, and their children, Sonny and Callahan, as part of our State College community.”

Kraft is committed to building successful programs across Penn State athletics

Overall, this latest hire shows that Pat Kraft understands, but doesn’t accept, the challenges of building a successful college baseball program at schools in the north. Mike Gambino not only did this at Boston College, but he did so in the ACC, which is arguably the second-best conference for college baseball in the country.

But more importantly, the hire shows that Kraft is not willing to settle for the status quo. It would be easy to focus solely on football, basketball, and wrestling while letting the other non-revenue-generating sports compete in obscurity. But a rising tide lifts all ships, and Kraft is now putting his commitment to putting Penn State at the pinnacle of all collegiate athletics on full display.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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