T.J. Hubbard came to North Texas in 2003 looking for a start as an assistant softball coach on the Division I level. He left a decade later on Tuesday as the most accomplished head coach in the short history of the program.
Hubbard set the UNT record for career wins while finishing with a 161-161-1 mark. UNT posted three winning seasons in six years under Hubbard after compiling an 81-169 record under two coaches in the four seasons prior to UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal promoting him from his role as an assistant.
The Mean Green finished with a winning record in each of its last two seasons under Hubbard, including a 29-24 mark last year when UNT posted wins over Oklahoma State and Baylor, which was ranked 19th at the time. UNT lost to South Alabama in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament in what turned out to be Hubbard’s final game with the Mean Green.
“I am grateful for the opportunity that Rick Villarreal gave me and the support from the entire administration over the last 10 years,” Hubbard said in a statement. “My family and I enjoyed our time at North Texas and are blessed to have made so many friends here in Denton. I am proud of the growth of the softball program and the success we had.”
Hubbard declined to comment further Tuesday night.
Villarreal said UNT would begin a national search for a new coach immediately.
UNT placed a record three players on the All-Sun Belt team last season: pitcher Ashley Kirk, shortstop Brooke Foster and catcher Taylor Schoblocher.
While UNT improved dramatically during Hubbard’s tenure, the Mean Green never broke through with an NCAA regional bid and underwent turnover within its staff in early April when assistant coach Erin Glasco resigned.
“I know this was a tough decision for T.J., both personally and professionally,” Villarreal said. “He put his heart and soul into this program and provided numerous memorable moments and notable victories throughout his tenure.”
UNT’s improvement under Hubbard coincided with the program having more to work with in terms of facilities. The team practiced and played at Denia Park when the program was founded and continued playing in the city-owned facility until Lovelace Stadium opened in 2007.
Hubbard helped guide UNT through the early years of the program’s existence as an assistant after beginning his coaching career in the same capacity at Seminole State College in Oklahoma.
Villarreal now will look to hire the fourth coach in program history during a time of transition for UNT’s athletic department. The Mean Green played its final season in the Sun Belt in 2013 and will make the transition to Conference USA over the summer.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.