FLORENCE, S.C. - Francis Marion University athletic director Murray Hartzler announced on Monday that Jack Byerley of Hickory, Ky., has been named the university’s new head women’s softball coach.
Byerley, 44, replaces Bill Gray, who resigned earlier this summer after six seasons at the helm of the Patriot program. Byerley was chosen from a field of approximately 30 candidates. Hartzler said Byerley would start in his new position immediately.
“This is a great opportunity for me to join an established program like FMU’s, and in a tremendously tough Division II conference like the Peach Belt,” Byerley said. “I am excited about the chance to be a head coach again, and am ready to face the challenge of improving our standing in the Peach Belt Conference. I met the team members during the interview process and they appeared to be a tight-knit group that is ready to work hard. I was also impressed by the overall friendly and caring attitude displayed by everyone I met on campus.”
Byerley spent the past two years as an assistant coach at the University of Florida. The Gators posted a 69-63 combined mark and advanced to the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
He was recently contacted by organizers of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, to fill the position of on-site operations director for the softball competition. “I am extremely excited about this chance to work with the Olympics, and I hope that the timetable the organizers present to me will allow me to take this spot, while still fulfilling my obligations with Francis Marion.” In 2000, Byerley served as a coach for the Southeastern Collegiate All-Star squad that competed against the 2000 United States Olympic Team.
A 1981 graduate of the University of South Alabama, he started the fast-pitch softball program at Central Alabama Community College. In four seasons on the CACC bench, he recorded a 205-47 mark, won four conference championships, and made three trips to the National Junior College Tournament. He was named the Alabama Junior College Athletic Association Coach of the Year in 1997 and 2000. He also coached volleyball at CACC and served as president of the AJCAA Coaches Association.
Prior to his posts at CACC, he coached at Robertsdale (Ala.) High School. He coached the slow-pitch softball team to a 211-46 record in six seasons, including five state tournament appearances. In 1995, he started a fast-pitch program at the school and compiled a two-year mark of 107-9 and captured the first two Alabama High School fast-pitch state championships. He earned the AHSAA Fast-pitch Coaches Award following both seasons.
While at Robertsdale, he also coached football, tennis, basketball, and volleyball.
“Jack is the exact type of coach we hoped to have lead our program,” Hartzler said. “He brings a level of knowledge and experience to our program that can only help us improve within the Peach Belt. He has shown the ability to start and lead a program to success, as evidence by his work on the junior college level, and he has been recognized for his knowledge, as evidenced by his Olympic connection.”
This past season, a young (one senior) Francis Marion squad posted a 35-20 record, equaling the fourth-highest win total in the program’s history. FMU finished eighth during the Peach Belt Conference regular season and tied for fifth at the PBC Tournament.
Byerley is the eighth head coach in the 23-year history of the FMU softball program. The program boasts an all-time mark of 614-422-3 (.592 winning percentage), including four national tournament appearances in the 1980s.