New Dayton baseball coach confident he can build a winner

Jayson King had a busy Thursday. The University of Dayton announced his hiring as the new baseball coach. Meanwhile, back at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., King was getting his family ready to move to Dayton.

A longtime Division II coach at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, King spent last season as an associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Army. Now King, 46, makes the jump to Division I with the goal of turning the Dayton Flyers into a consistent winner.

“I come from a place where we built a program from scratch and went to the World Series seven times,” King said. “I’m not afraid to earn whatever we get, but I can tell you we’ll have strong teams and a very strong program in a real short time.”

King, who grew up in Canton, Mass., 15 minutes outside Boston, had an 18-year run at Franklin Pierce, leading the program to 10 conference championships and seven Northeast Regional appearances. He previously coached two seasons at UMass-Boston. His career record is 675-338-3 (.610).

King didn’t always have the goal of being a Division I coach but started to think about it more five or six years ago. That’s why he left Franklin Pierce for Army in 2016.

“Basically once I made the move to West Point,” King said, “it was kind of with the idea that at some point I wanted to be in a situation where I could be a head coach of a school with a really strong academic program and potentially strong baseball program. It happened faster than I thought it might. I’m definitely happy that it did.”

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In his one season at Army, King helped secure the 28th-ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to Perfect Game Baseball. Jumping into recruiting in Ohio and the Midwest shouldn’t be an issue.

“He has a very strong and deep network in the baseball world that spans the country,” Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said. “He’s been everywhere from Texas to Illinois. West Point has a national brand. We’d like to think we have a national brand.”

King sent a group text to Dayton players and hopes to meet with them in the next week. He takes over a program that has experienced five straight losing seasons. The Flyers finished 20-35 last season and 9-15 in the Atlantic 10, 10th out of 13 teams. Tony Vittorio stepped down in May after 18 seasons.

Dayton won its only regular-season A-10 championship in 2009 and its only A-10 tournament in 2012.

“We have championship aspirations and championship expectations,” Sullivan said. “That being said, we’ve got to crawl before we walk, before we run. We think long term we’d like to talk about Atlantic 10 championships in baseball. We’ve done that. We did it in 2012. We think we can do it again. We think we can do it with more consistency. At the same time, right now we’re trying to get back in the hunt to be in the upper part of the A-10.”

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