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USF Lands The 'Quintessential Candidate'

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More on salary and view on facilities.....


USF Lands The 'Quintessential Candidate'

By ADAM ADKINS The Tampa Tribune

Published: Jun 17, 2006

TAMPA - Every time University of South Florida athletic director Doug Woolard made a call to talk about potential baseball coaching candidates, the same name kept popping up. It then became evident whom Woolard would target as the Bulls' next coach.

Woolard proceeded to secure for USF what he called the "quintessential candidate" in Lelo Prado, luring the former University of Tampa coach away from Louisville to replace longtime coach Eddie Cardieri, who resigned last month after 21 years as head coach.

"We feel we were able to get the very best person in the country to lead this program," Woolard said.

Prado, the program's fifth coach, received a five-year contract and will receive $95,000 annually from USF and $30,000 annually from Easton, a sports equipment manufacturer, making his total salary nearly double the $64,000 Cardieri made last season.

So now begins Prado's quest to put the Bulls' program, which has gone 265-268 the past nine years and has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 2002, where he thinks it belongs.

"I think this university and this baseball program can be one of the best in America. There's no reason why it shouldn't," Prado said. "I've heard about every excuse on why we can't be. [but] I promise you, we're going to make this happen. We're going to win, and we're going to win big."

In 11 seasons at Louisville, Prado led the Cardinals to seven winning seasons and the program's only NCAA Tournament appearance in 2002. In the 11 seasons prior to Prado taking over, the Cardinals had just three winning seasons.

Prado never had a sub-.500 record in seven years at UT and guided the Spartans to Division II national championships in 1992 and 1993, something that speaks volumes to Tino Martinez, Prado's brother-in-law and new USF assistant.

"He's an aggressive coach, and he really gets the most out of his players," Martinez said. "He did it at the University of Tampa when he really didn't have a whole lot of talent, and he doesn't accept anything but the best."

The best isn't a word used to describe USF's current baseball facilities, a definite step down from the $8 million complex Prado leaves behind at Louisville. While Prado vowed to start fundraising efforts to finance a new stadium at USF - which prompted USF president Judy Genshaft to emphatically raise her arms in appreciation - he won't use the current accommodations as an excuse.

"I knew that once we got the community and people behind baseball [at Louisville] we would get that thing built," Prado said. "That's the same thing that's going to happen here."

For now, Prado promises an exciting brand of baseball. And he believes that once he gets the community involved in USF baseball, everything else will fall into place.

"The best is yet to come," Prado said. "We've just scratched the surface. We think we can build this into something special."

Contact Adam Adkins at

(813) 259-8425 or


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