New Missouri coach Kerrick Jackson to be first Black head coach in SEC baseball history

Memphis head coach Kerrick Jackson walks to the dugout during an NCAA baseball game against Tulane on Sunday, April 2, 2023, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
Kerrick Jackson was on Missouri's coaching staff as an assistant when the Tigers last made the NCAA tournament in 2012. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Missouri announced Sunday it hired Memphis coach Kerrick Jackson as its new baseball head coach.

Jackson, a former Missouri assistant coach, will be the first Black baseball head coach in SEC history and was one of four Black men who started the 2023 season as head coaches at non-HBCU schools at the top level of college baseball.

"We set out to find a leader of high character with success rejuvenating a program, and we certainly found that in Kerrick Jackson," Missouri athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said in a statement. "He's a tireless recruiter, fierce competitor and a coach with deep roots in the Midwest. Coach Jackson knows what success looks like in college baseball, specifically at Mizzou."

A native of St. Louis, Jackson was hired after Steve Bieser was fired at the end of the 2023 season and takes over a Missouri baseball program that hasn’t made the NCAA tournament in over a decade. The Tigers last made the tournament in 2012 when Jackson was an assistant. Missouri baseball has struggled to keep up in the SEC since moving over from the Big 12.

"It's a great honor to come back to the University of Missouri and lead the baseball program," Jackson said. "I have seen this program at its championship best and understand both what it takes to get there and the importance of baseball to the state, region and within the Southeastern Conference."

Jackson was at Memphis for just one season after a three-year stint as the president of the MLB Draft League. The six-team Draft League was started in 2021 as a showcase for draft-eligible players ahead of the annual MLB Draft.

Memphis went 29-28 in 2023 after posting a 26-29 record in 2022.

Before he ran the Draft League, Jackson coached at Southern from 2018-20 and the Jaguars made the NCAA tournament in 2019. He’s also served as a scout for the Washington Nationals.

Jackson’s hire as Missouri’s baseball coach comes less than a year after there were no Black coaching staff members on any of the eight teams at the College World Series. According to the Associated Press, fewer than two dozen Black players were on the teams that made it to the CWS and just 4% of players in college baseball were Black in 2021.