RICHMOND, Ky. – Chris Prothro, who helped the University of South Alabama capture two conference championships, make two NCAA Regional appearances and compile a 152-104 record in five seasons as an assistant coach, was chosen as the new Eastern Kentucky University baseball head coach, Vice President and Director of Athletics Matt Roan announced on Wednesday.
As the recruiting coordinator at South Alabama, Prothro led the efforts that resulted in the 2018 recruiting class being ranked 25th in the nation. The 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020 classes also garnered recognition by national collegiate baseball publications.
“First I must say thank you to the entire University of South Alabama community, specifically Dr. Joel Erdmann and the athletics department staff, along with Coach Calvi and the rest of the baseball staff and players,” Prothro said. “I am so grateful for my time at South Alabama and with the people there. It is a truly amazing place that was difficult to leave. Words can’t even express how excited I am to lead the EKU baseball program. The pieces are in place for a championship level of success. We have amazing facilities, a first class student-athlete experience and outstanding leadership.”
Prothro joined the Jaguars staff in July of 2015. As the program’s hitting instructor, USA ranked first or second in every major statistical category in the Sun Belt Conference in 2017 as well as placing among the national leaders in runs scored per game, walks and home runs. He instructed two first team All-Sun Belt selections in three consecutive seasons, 2016-18. Prothro coached five players who were drafted over a three-year span, including the No. 10 overall pick in 2018.
“I first learned about Chris Prothro several years ago and I’ve been impressed ever since,” said Roan. “What I believed then and what I know now is that he is high character and possesses the right disposition, baseball intellect, and recruiting abilities to return our program to a championship level. He is committed to winning the right way, prioritizes the total student-athlete experience, and he’s a competitor. Coach will also build strong, personal connections throughout our campus, the community and with the Colonel baseball alumni. I am fired up to welcome Coach Pro, Candace, Grayson and Rhyan to EKU and Richmond, and I can’t wait for him to get started and watch what he’s able to do with a strong staff around him.”
With Prothro on the staff, South Alabama captured the 2016 Sun Belt Conference regular season title and the 2017 Sun Belt tournament Championship. The Jaguars won two games in the Tallahassee Regional in 2016 before falling to top-seeded Florida State. USA beat No. 2 seed Mississippi State in the first round of the Hattiesburg Regional in 2017. South Alabama finished the 2017 season ranked 26thnationally.
“I’ve never worked with Matt Roan, but I know a lot of people who have,” said Prothro. “They all have nothing but the highest praise for his character and leadership. His vision for EKU athletics and this baseball program has fueled my passion for this opportunity. I am beyond grateful to Matt, the athletic administration and staff, and Dr. McFaddin for this opportunity.”
From the summer of 2007 to 2015, Prothro served in a variety of roles at Nicholls State University. He was the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator from 2011 to 2015. He spent six seasons as the pitching coach and two seasons as the hitting coach. In his final two seasons, he helped NSU win 66 games overall and 66 percent of its conference games. The 2014 and 2015 Nicholls recruiting classes were recognized nationally.
During his tenure as pitching coach, eight pitchers were drafted or signed by MLB organizations. He tutored the 2014 and 2015 Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year and the 2015 Southland Conference Reliever of the Year. The 2014 and 2015 staffs led the Southland in ERA and ranked among the top-10 in the NCAA.
Prothro was an assistant at North Iowa Community College during the 2006 season. He also was an assistant coach in the Northwoods Summer Collegiate League in 2006 and 2007, coaching 13 future MLB draft picks.
Prothro earned a bachelor’s of arts degree in history at Arkansas State University, where he played for two seasons, in 2005. He began his collegiate playing career at Northwestern State University.