Wichita State fires Stephenson after 36 seasons; dismissal follows losses in NCAA regional

Gene Stephenson has been fired as head baseball coach at Wichita State after a 36-year career.

Athletics director Eric Sexton announced the decision Tuesday, saying it was the "proper time to move into a new phase of Shocker baseball."

The 67-year-old Stephenson held a brief news conference, saying he had been forced to retire with a year left on his contract.

Stephenson coached Wichita State to the 1989 national championship and seven College World Series appearances. He leaves with a career record of 1,837-675-3.

But in their first tournament appearance since 2009, the Shockers were eliminated Saturday after two losses in the 2013 Manhattan Regional.

Sexton said pitching coach Brent Kemnitz will take over daily responsibilities for the baseball program while the school looks for a permanent head coach.