Bo Durkac was named the Illinois State head baseball coach June 19, as announced by Director of Athletics Larry Lyons.
Durkac has 12 years of coaching experience, including five seasons with the Redbirds, serving as an associate head coach for the past two seasons, and is widely respected throughout the sport.
As the associate head coach, Durkac’s responsibilities included spearheading recruiting, as well as working with ISU hitters and infielders. Not only does his experience include 12 years of coaching, but it also includes seven years of playing professionally spanning the globe.
“I am pleased to announce that Bo Durkac has accepted the position of head coach for our baseball program,” Lyons said. “We had significant interest from head coaches of very successful programs, as well as assistant coaches from high level programs from across the country. We trusted our search process to lead us to our next head coach.
“Bo’s passion for baseball and Illinois State was evident from the beginning,” Lyons continued. “He has a keen baseball mind and the ability to transfer that knowledge to bring out the best in our young men. He has a passion for those players off the field and believes in the Illinois State commitment to academics and individual personal development. We have no doubt that he will continue the high level of excellence that we saw under Coach Kingston. Illinois State baseball is in very good hands, and we are excited about the future under Bo’s leadership.”
At the end of the 2014 season, six Redbirds were selected in the Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft, which set a program record for players picked in a single draft. Offensively, ISU was second in the conference in on-base percentage (.378), triples (16) and walks (262). The team finished third in batting average (.272), runs scored (313) and runs batted in (287). During the 2014 season, Durkac helped lead the Redbirds to their second-straight Valley Tournament Championship game, as ISU finished the regular season in fifth place.
During the 2014 season, Durkac also helped develop Paul DeJong, who was named a Valley First Team honoree. DeJong led Illinois State in most offensive categories this spring, including batting average (.360), on-base percentage (.443), slugging percentage (.605), hits (72), home runs (8), doubles (19), triples (3), total bases (121) and runs batted in (45). He finished second in the Valley in batting average, hits, total bases and slugging percentage. DeJong appeared in 50 games for Illinois State and spent time defensively at second base, third base, catcher and shortstop.
“First of all, I want to thank Larry Lyons and his staff for giving me this wonderful opportunity,” Durkac said. “The fact that I will be a Head Coach at such a well-respected institution like Illinois State University—both academically and from a baseball standpoint—is truly a dream come true. From a professional standpoint, I want to thank two people in particular. The first is Mark Kingston. I have known Mark for over 20 years, and he is the one who helped get my coaching career started once I finished playing. I enjoyed and took great satisfaction in what we accomplished here over the past five years.
“I would also like to thank Loren Hibbs,” Durkac continued. “When I decided I wanted to be a college baseball coach, he was one of several coaches I contacted to help get my foot in the door. He took a chance on a guy who was long on desire but short on experience when he could have very easily hired someone already in the business.”
In 2013, Durkac helped guide the most successful regular season in Illinois State baseball history, as the Redbirds won a program-record 39 games and the first outright Missouri Valley Conference title in school history. Offensively, Illinois State led the MVC in batting average (.293), on-base percentage (.388), slugging percentage (.403) and home runs (29) and averaged 6.2 runs-per-game. Additionally, five position players were named First-Team All-Missouri Valley Conference. Durkac oversaw a pair of four-year Redbirds who were drafted in the 2013 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, helping mold Brett Kay (San Francisco Giants), winner of the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Most Valuable Player award, and Chad Hinshaw (Los Angeles Angels), Illinois State’s all-time stolen base leader.
Under Durkac’s guidance, the 2012 Illinois State offense was one of the most potent in NCAA Division I baseball. The offense averaged 6.9 runs-per-game, good for 12th nationally, and led the led the Missouri Valley Conference in batting average (.297), and on-base percentage (.386) while finishing second in slugging percentage (.426).
Durkac helped the 2011 Redbirds win 36 games, while hitting .271 with a Valley-high .409 slugging percentage and a .385 on-base percentage. ISU also hit 39 home runs, which ranked second in the league. In his first season at Illinois State, Durkac oversaw a 2010 Redbird team that hit .293, as ISU won its first-ever MVC regular-season title and its first State Farm MVC Tournament championship since 1994.
“It is not about what Illinois State has done for me, rather, it is what I expect to do for Illinois State,” Durkac continued. “The standard has been set. The expectations are clear. I will work tirelessly to make Illinois State University proud of its student-athletes both on and off the field. Simply put, I love this school, I love this town, and I am honored to be the next head coach of the Redbirds.”
At Charlotte, Durkac served as the hitting instructor, infield/outfield defensive instructor and recruiting coordinator. Durkac led Charlotte to steady offensive increases each season, including a school-record .333 batting average in 2008. Also during the 2008 season, the Niners collected their second-highest hit total in a single season with 720, giving the team over 700 hits in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. Durkac coached or recruited 36 all-conference selections, three All-Americans and three freshman All-America selections.
Durkac finished his professional baseball career with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League in 2001, after playing for Sonoma County in the Western Baseball League that summer and with the Taichung Agan in the Taiwan Major Leagues during the spring. Before playing in Taiwan, he played three seasons in the Western Baseball League for the Chico Heat and was named a Western League All-Star in 1999. That fall, he played for Team USA in the XIV International Cup in Sydney, Australia. Durkac spent the 1996 and 1997 in affiliated Minor League Baseball.
He has authored two books on baseball, 2001: A Baseball Odyssey and How to Become a Professional Baseball Player. He also contributed a semimonthly column on Baseball America‘s website for two years.