David Perno's tenure as Georgia's baseball coach is over.
Reached by phone Monday morning, Perno confirmed that he has been dismissed and will not be back for his 12th season after his Bulldogs posted a 21-32 mark, 7-20 in the SEC.
"There's no hard feelings. It happened. I'm extremely grateful to Coach (Vince) Dooley for giving me a shot at such a young age, I love all my players and I appreciate everything they've done," Perno said. "They took the program to new levels, it was exciting. I'm grateful to Dr. (Michael) Adams for his support through the years. I love the University of Georgia, I always will, but it's time for another chapter."
During his 11 years at UGA, Perno, an Athens native, exits Georgia with a record of 390-335-1, including three trips to the College World Series, finishing as the national runner up in 2008.
A player on Georgia's 1990 National Championship team, Perno also spent seven years as a Bulldog assistant before replacing Ron Polk in 2001.
Perno has one year left on a contract which pays him $450,000 per season (including base, camps, etc). Regardless of what happens, these have not been good times for the Bulldog baseball program.
"I feel like we were really on the cusp of getting back to where Georgia baseball is expected to be, unfortunately we didn't get the chance to, but there are no hard feelings. It was such a great experience and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity," Perno said. "We had a great run, we really did. When you look at it. We did a lot of good thing considering the league and the circumstances, and the resources and I was proud to be a part of it. I'm so grateful to our coaches, our staff, there are so many people to thank I know I'll forget someone if I try to start naming them all."
The last few years were not kind to the Bulldog program.
Since finishing as the national runner-up to Fresno State in 2008, Georgia has gone 57-87 in conference play, although the Bulldogs did make appearances in the NCAA Regional in both 2009 and 2011.
"It wasn't shocking, but it sets you back a little bit. You do it for so long at the same place and you love it, it's sad. It's sad for those players," Perno said. "I know where they were … it reminded me a lot of the 2007 because we were so close yet they were so hungry the following year and we know what happened there."
Perno said athletic director Greg McGarity already had his mind made up when the two met last night.
"Ted White (Associate AD) who I'm also grateful for, he called about 6:15 and said we're going to meet in the morning," Perno said. "I said I really don't want to do that, so we called Greg back can you meet tonight and we met at 7 p.m."
Georgia sent out an email officially announcing Perno's removal, although an email to beat writers claimed that Perno actually reigned.
"I have accepted David's resignation and would like to express our appreciation to him for his numerous contributions to our baseball program over the last two decades as a player, assistant and head coach," said McGarity. "David was a part of our baseball program when it won a national title and helped Georgia advance to the College World Series five times during his playing and coaching career. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors. He has been a great representative for UGA. We have begun the process of finding the next head coach to lead our program and will do so as quickly as possible."
As far as his immediate future, Perno said he's considering several options.
"Obviously, it's a situation where I know I can coach, we can make a move, so yeah I think I could get right back in it, but at the same time I'm going to look at some other avenues, I really am," Perno said. "Maybe administration. I think I've got a good grasp and baseball needs a lot of help. We've (college baseball) got the short stick through a lot of angles for a lot of years, so if I could get into that kind of situation to help baseball and maybe other sports, I think I've got a good feel for how it works."
Whoever becomes the new Bulldog coach, Perno said the new skipper will be walking into a good situation in regards to returning players.
Georgia graduates seniors Brett DeLoach, Kyle Farmer, Bryan Benzor, Curt Powell and Earl Daniels but return a solid nucleus that Perno thinks could quickly turn the program's fortunes around next spring.
"It's a great place, the University of Georgia is, no question. I'm sure they'll have a lot of strong candidates want to look in and obviously there's a lot of talent in the state of Georgia. There's a lot of good things," Perno said. "Obviously, there are some things that are tricky and make it difficult but I'm sure they will find a great coach and he'll do a really good job. That's what I feel good about. He won't be coming into a situation where the cupboard is bare. Yeah, I know the record wasn't good this year, but there's a lot of good players. I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out."
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