BALTIMORE - UMBC Director of Athletics Tim Hall announced today that Head Softball Coach Joe French has announced his retirement from coaching, effective July 1, 2016.
French dedicated 15 seasons as UMBC's head softball coach and 35 years to the field of collegiate coaching. He compiled a record of 435-397-1 (52.3 winning percentage) at UMBC and a mark of 649-506-1 (56.2%) in 23 seasons as a head softball coach.
French has served in collegiate athletics and recreation for 39 years.
"I would like to thank Dr. Hrabowski, Dr. Charles Brown and Tim Hall for giving me the chance to coach at UMBC for 15 years," French said. "I would also like to thank Larry [Alvis] and Julia [Culotta] for their time as coaches and the other assistant coaches throughout the years.
"I'd like to wish the [current] players the best of luck in the future. It was enjoyable to coach and watch so many great players, especially those that achieved elite status around the league and regionally. The opportunity to finish my career as a Retriever was very exciting and they were some of the best times of my coaching career."
This spring, UMBC posted an overall record of 25-31 and finished in fifth place with a 5-12 record in the America East Conference. The fifth-seeded Retrievers lost their opening round game, 3-1, to No. 4 Stony Brook in the opening round of the America East Tournament, before ousting No. 6 Hartford, 4-0, in an elimination game. However, UMBC exited the tournament with a 5-2 setback to the two-time defending league champion Seawolves.
French coached more than 1,500 games in 27 seasons at the helm at Alfred State (N.Y.), (women's basketball, 1982-87), Mansfield (Pa.) University (women's basketball, softball, 1987-91), SUNY-Geneseo (women's basketball, softball, 1997-2001) and UMBC (2002-16).
As a college coach in all sports, he posted an overall record of 861-671-1 for a 56.2 career winning percentage.
In French's first season in Baltimore in 2002, the Waterloo, N.Y. native led the Northeast Conference-aligned Retrievers to their second-ever NCAA berth and a school-record 47 wins.
UMBC's best season in the America East Conference occurred in 2007, when they made their lone appearance in the league championship game. With a 13-8 AE record, UMBC was the second seed, but eventually lost in the finals to three-time defending champion Albany.
A national search for a successor will begin immediately.