A mutual separation between Wichita State University and former baseball head coach Eric Wedge has been finalized in a financial settlement, The Eagle He learned.
The 14-page separation agreement, obtained Wednesday by The Eagle through a Kansas Open Records request and signed by WSU athletic director Kevin Saal and Wedge on Feb. 14, stipulates that WSU will pay Wedge a total of $675,000 — or about half of the money remaining on his contract — in equal installments over next 10 months.
Wedge signed a 2-year contract extension last summer to keep him at WSU through the 2026 season, but the coach took time off from the program to “focus on personal health matters” last October. Less than six weeks later, WSU announced Wedge would not return as head coach on December 8. WSU promoted Loren Hibbs, who had been Wedge’s director of operations, as interim head coach for the 2023 season.
It was a mysterious ending for Wedge, a Shocker legend from the school’s 1989 national championship team with MLB coaching success who had returned to his alma mater to restore the program to its former glory. The massive hire made by former WSU athletic director Darron Boatright in the spring of 2019 resulted in a 65-61 record in three years.
In the wake of the release of the separation agreement, WSU and Wedge released a joint statement to The Eagle on the amicable split.
“Wichita State appreciates Wedge’s contributions to its baseball program — both as an athlete and as a coach — and looks forward to his future baseball career,” the statement read. “Wedge, the 2007 Cleveland Indians Coach of the Year as head coach, said he is healthy and feeling well and plans to return to professional baseball. The state of Wichita wishes him well.
After a three-year stint as manager of the Seattle Mariners from 2011 to 2013, Wedge transitioned into a player development consultant role with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he was able to work remotely.
In a text message to The EagleWedge, 55, said he intends to return to Major League Baseball in some capacity.
“I look forward to the opportunity to return to professional baseball,” Wedge wrote. “I don’t have anything specific confirmed at this time, but I’m passionate about the game and it’s something I always want to be a part of my going forward.”
The scale of the “health issues” that led to Wedge’s abrupt exit from the program last fall was never and will not be publicized, at least by Wedge or WSU after agreeing to the standard matrix of nondisclosure, confidentiality, and no disparaging clauses.
“Wedge agrees that the discussions between the parties leading to the settlement and the events leading to Wedge’s separation from (WSU) are strictly and will forever remain confidential,” section 10, paragraph B reads.
By accepting financial compensation from WSU, Wedge agreed to release any claims he had against the university and waive the right to pursue further financial compensation. The agreement also states that WSU’s financial package is in no way an admission of liability, and if Wedge violates the terms of the agreement, the coach must immediately return 60% (or $405,000) of the financial consideration received.
Under the agreement, Wedge will never be able to work for WSU again and must disassociate himself as a coach from the university, which includes disbanding the Eric Wedge Wichita State Baseball Academy within 30 days.
Another inquiry from Kansas Open Records also revealed the working arrangement between WSU and Hibbs since he became interim head coach. Hibbs, who had a salary of $80,000 as director of operations, will receive an additional $87,500 as interim head coach, bringing his salary to $167,500.
Performance incentives include $5,000 for a winning record in the American Athletic Conference, $10,000 for at least 37 wins, and $10,000 for a conference tournament championship or NCAA Regional berth. A Super Regional appearance would earn Hibbs an additional $10,000, a World Series appearance would earn an additional $25,000, a CWS Championship appearance would be an additional $25,000, and a College World Series championship would be an additional $50,000. Hibbs’ incentive compensation is capped at $75,000 total.
The WSU baseball team started the season 1-2 with a 4-game series at Utah Tech this week.