Legendary Softball Coach Frank Griffin Announces Retirement
After a 25-year Hall of Fame career at the helm of the Stetson University softball program, Hatters head coach Frank Griffin announced his retirement on May 28.
Griffin compiled a record of 761-552 during his quarter-century in the Stetson dugout, leading the Hatters to 20 appearances in the ASUN Softball tournament, two regular season titles, two conference tournament championships and the program’s first two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. He was inducted into the Stetson Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.
“There comes a time when you don’t have the energy, and I just don’t have the energy anymore,” Griffin said. “I knew this day would come. I could see it in practices, and even games.
“It’s been a good run,” Griffin added. “I have been at two universities – had success at both of them. I have had great relationships with staff and players. That’s what I am going to remember the most.”
A 32-year coaching veteran, Griffin has amassed 981 career victories, placing him 26th on the NCAA’s all-time coaching wins list. In addition to his 761 wins at Stetson, Griffin posted 225 victories in seven seasons at Winthrop University from 1983 to 1989.
“Frank was the catalyst in bringing our softball program into the current era,” Stetson Director of Athletics Jeff Altier said. “He has done a tremendous job leading us from our days out at Sperling back onto campus and building a beautiful facility which has won national awards year in and year out. Our softball program really established itself under Frank’s leadership and guidance, and he will be missed.”
Griffin’s tenure as head coach at Stetson began in 1997, when the Hatters played home games at DeLand’s municipal Sperling Sports Complex. In his first five years, Griffin spearheaded a movement to elevate the softball program to a major sport status. He also led a fundraising effort for Patricia Wilson Field, a seven-time National Field of the Year winner. The 2003 season marked the inaugural season on the new field for the Hatters, but additions and improvements to the complex have continued annually, thanks in large part to Griffin’s efforts.
The pristine beauty of Patricia Wilson Field and its award-winning playing surface has been recognized throughout the country. Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), the pre-eminent professional sports turf organization in the nation, has recognized Patricia Wilson Field with National College Softball Field of the Year awards five times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2017, 2019). The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), in conjunction with Stabilizer Solutions, named the facility its Field of the Year twice (2004, 2007).
In addition to his efforts off the field, Griffin quickly turned Stetson into a perennial winner on the field. In 2002, Griffin led the Hatters to a 45-win season, a program high-water mark that was matched again in 2004 and 2006. In 2007, the Hatters won 44 games and celebrated an ASUN Championship victory at Patricia Wilson Field, earning the program’s first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Stetson’s second ASUN Championship under Griffin came in 2014 following a perfect 4-0 run through the conference tournament. The Hatters then posted their first-ever NCAA postseason victory with a 6-4 extra-inning win over UCF in the Gainesville Regional.
“The conference championships were obviously big,” Griffin said. “Beating UCF in regionals. Beating Florida more than once. Losing to Alabama 1-0 at home. There have been a lot of great games that I won’t forget.
“I will miss teaching and learning. I was able to teach my players a lot of things, and I was able to learn a lot from them. It’s been a lot of fun.”
A 1979 Winthrop graduate, Griffin was named MVP and captain of the Eagles soccer team, earning all-district honors three-straight years. During his tenure as Winthrop Softball head coach, the Eagles made three straight appearances in the NAIA World Series and won two Big South Championships. Griffin was inducted in the Winthrop Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
What’s next for Griffin?
“I am going to see if it is possible to get bored fishing,” Griffin said. “If it is, then I will find something else to do. I am going to spend some weekends with my wife and go see my mother more.”
A national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.