Getting back to his roots was apparently too much for Mitch Hannahs and his new employer to pass up.
The Lincoln Trail College president is returning to what brought him to Robinson in the first place - coaching baseball. Hannahs was hired Thursday as the new head baseball coach at Indiana State University, his alma mater.
"My family and I are excited to be coming back to Indiana State and the Terre Haute community," said Hannahs in a press released issued by ISU. "I'm really looking forward to meeting the returning players and getting to work. There's no question that it's special to become the head coach at a place where you were a player and worked as an assistant coach. With so many connections to former players and within the community, this makes it a very special homecoming."
Hannahs becomes the 29th head coach in the history of the ISU program, as he takes over for Rick Heller, who resigned recently after four years to take head coaching job at the University of Iowa.
"I am thrilled to announce that Mitch Hannahs will be our head baseball coach at Indiana State University," ISU Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman said in the release. "Mitch is an amazing professional that has accomplished much in his personal and professional career. He brings to us a high level of administrative experience as well as a broad base of knowledge in professional and collegiate baseball."
His departure to ISU opens up a big hole in the administration at LTC, one Illinois Eastern Community Colleges officials already are trying to fill.
"Mitch Hannahs gave extraordinarily high quality leadership to Lincoln Trail College and he will be missed," IECC District Chief Executive Officer Terry Bruce told the Daily News. "I enjoyed working with him. He gave good service to the college and to Illinois Eastern."
Hannahs, who has not resigned officially yet, called Bruce with the news early Thursday. Since then, the CEO has begun the process of compiling a list of potential replacements. His goal is to have someone ready to step into the position at least temporarily when Hannahs leaves in two weeks.
A temporary president would likely serve only a few weeks, while an interim replacement would be on the job for one year, Bruce explained. The search for a permanent president takes about six months, he added.
The IECC board next meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Wabash Valley College, Mount Carmel. Bruce expects the trustees will officially approve Hannahs' resignation during the meeting.
Hannahs is well-known by the ISU community, as he was an integral part of some of the most successful teams in Sycamore history.
With Hannahs on the diamond from 1986-89, Indiana State posted 172 victories and made trips to the NCAA Tournament in 1986, 1987 and 1989, including the program's only trip to the College World Series in 1986.
His name is all over the Sycamore baseball record book, as the former second baseman ranks tied for second in stolen bases (77), second in runs scored (220), second in on-base percentage (.475), third in walks (138), fourth in hits (274), fourth in triples (23) and sixth in batting average (.376) following his standout career. He was named an All-American his senior season by Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association, leading the team with a .428 average.
His exploits at ISU got him drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 16th round of the 1989 Major League Baseball Draft. He played three seasons in the minor leagues from 1989 to 1991, where he put together a .306 batting average and 132 hits in 127 career games played.
Hannahs then served as an assistant coach at ISU under legendary head coach Bob Warn, coaching the Sycamores from 1995 to 1999 and again in 2001.
Hannahs then came to Robinson, where he was head coach at LTC for nine seasons, leading the Statesmen to Region 24 titles in 2005 and 2007 and the Great Rivers Athletic Conference championship in 2006 and 2007. He was also the college's athletic director before being named as the successor to retiring LTC president Bev Turkal in 2010.
He was inducted into the ISU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010 and was inducted into the first class of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in recognition of his accomplishments at Skyvue (Ohio) High School while playing basketball and baseball.
"As a member of the Indiana State University Athletics Hall of Fame, Mitch is highly respected among our alumni and the people of the community and region, Prettyman said. "He is committed to recruiting quality student-athletes and seeing them excel in the classroom and on the baseball field, but most of all he is committed to building young men that will be productive citizens in our community as they prepare for life after college. As good of a baseball coach as Mitch is, he is also an outstanding person and role model for the young men and women in our Athletics Department and in our community."
The links between Hannahs and ISU don't stop there, as oldest son Derek is currently a member of the Sycamores baseball team. Derek batted .309 as a redshirt sophomore, while playing second base - like his dad - this past season.
Randy Harrison of the Daily News staff also contributed to this report.