Rice Owls hire Matt Bragga to succeed Wayne Graham

The Rice Owls have hired Matt Bragga to take over their baseball program, which missed the NCAA tournament this year for the first time in 24 seasons.

Bragga, who coached the last 15 seasons at Tennessee Tech, will succeed longtime Owls coach Wayne Graham, whose contract was not renewed at the end of the season. Graham, 82, won more than 1,173 games in 27 seasons at Rice, including the 2003 national title.

"Rice baseball has an incredible storied history, and I'm excited that I've been entrusted to be the new coach," Bragga told the Houston Chronicle on Friday. "Wayne Graham did a great job and built a great program. This is still, in my opinion, one of the elite programs in the country."

Bragga won 446 games at Tennessee Tech, which ranks second in school history, and led the Golden Eagles to three NCAA tournament appearances. His team won a school-record 53 games en route to the Super Regionals.

"Matt Bragga is the right person to carry on the terrific legacy and national prominence of Rice baseball," Rice athletic director Joe Karlgaard said in a statement. "... Everyone we spoke with said that the reason Tennessee Tech has been so successful in recent years is Matt's ability to identify and develop talent, inspire young men and teach the game of baseball."