Breaking News: Bishop Amat baseball coach Andy Nieto resigns a week after winning his fourth CIF championship

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Bishop Amat baseball coach Andy Nieto, one of the winningest baseball coaches in Southern California over the last decade, announced Thursday he is resigning less than a week after earning his fourth championship in eight years at the school.
Bishop Amat started the season with four losses and was on the verge of not making the playoffs, but ended with ten straight victories culminating with last week’s stunning come-from-behind 4-3 victory over top-seed Palm Desert for the CIF-SS Division 3 title at Dodger Stadium.

There was speculation for weeks that Nieto was considering leaving, and Thursday he told his team he was resigning both as coach and teacher at the school to pursue other opportunities.
“For me, I’m always seeking new challenges and new experiences,” Nieto said. “After a lot of thinking for me personally and my family, there couldn’t be a better time in terms of the timing.
“Things are at a very high level in where the program is and how I’m leaving it, and I wish everyone at Amat all the success in the future.
“In terms of what’s next for me, God willing, everything will work out.”
Whether Nieto is eyeing openings at St. John Bosco or Servite, which both compete in the tough Trinity league or a return to college remains to be seen.
“There are things out there, but for me nothing is concrete and nothing is on the table,” Nieto said.
Nieto was asked a few times during the playoffs if he was considering leaving, but said on multiple occasions he had no intention of resigning, repeating it again soon after the championship, but also noting that he never says never.
He obviously had a change of heart, and denied rumors suggesting he may have been influenced by school officials to come to this decision.
“That’s absolutely not the case,” Nieto said. “This was my decision and my decision only and it wasn’t an easy one.”
Bishop Amat principal Richard Beck sat in on the meeting while Nieto was telling his team he was leaving and said he was surprised by the recent developments. He said Nieto always had his full support.
“The decision was his, absolutely, and it was a tough one for him, I’m sure,” Beck said. “It’s always sad to see a coach go. With that comes potential changes in the program and especially one that was successful as it was for eight years with coach Nieto. But what are you going to do, you have to move forward and we’re looking forward to the future and what it holds.”
Nieto won back-to-back titles when he first arrived at Bishop Amat in 2007 and ‘08, and added another banner in 2011 to go with seven consecutive Del Rey League championships.
Nieto finishes with a career record of 196-55-1 at Bishop Amat and in 2011 the Lancers finished the season ranked sixth nationally and won the prestigious National Classic.
“It was a great run, a really great run that I was fortunate to be part of,” Nieto said. “We kept the Amat tradition going and hung some banners on the wall. I’m honored to be part of that history.
“There are a lot of people to thank. (Former principal) Dr. Merritt Hemenway (now at Damien) gave me the opportunity to be the coach here and (athletic director) Michael Manzo was always supportive.
“From Monsignor (Aidan) Carroll, to assistant coach (Chris) Beck, the administration, parents, players and former players, I can’t thank them enough for all their support over the years.”
Nieto arrived at Bishop Amat with huge expectations after previously serving as an assistant coach at USC from 1997-2006. Nieto won a national championship with the Trojans in 1998 and went to the NCAA college World Series in Omaha three times with the Trojans in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
Is returning to college a possibility?
“Do I miss (coaching in) college, of course I do,” Nieto said. “But the stars gotta line up because the family and kids are actively involved.”
Nieto also served as an assistant baseball coach at Glendale community college in 1996 and was a recruiting coordinator for East Los Angeles College in 1995.
Bishop Amat was Nieto’s second high school head coaching job, having coached at Cantwell Sacred Heart from 1991-94 where he led the Cardinals to three league titles with a 62-35 overall record.
Nieto earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from USC in 1991 and master’s degree from Azusa Pacific and is a 1982 graduate of Schurr High.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is in eight years at Bishop Amat we helped get close to 40 kids in college,” Nieto said. “We helped put them on a path to graduate and extend their careers. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about.”
Beck said the school will begin the search immediately for its next coach and hopes to name Nieto’s successor by the end of the month.
One surely to be interested is Nieto’s longtime assistant, pitching coach Chris Beck.
“If that’s something where he (Chris Beck) wants to put his name in the hat, as they say, he’s absolutely welcome too,” Principal Beck said. “He’s a long-time faculty member and that’s always my preference to have a faculty coach. And what’s good is that we have a teaching position that we can offer with it, so we’ll float it and make the best decision possible for our program.”

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  • didn’t Romano mention a few weeks ago that he could see himself coaching again at a parochial school?….well……

  • D Snitch

    Gabe Lopez
    El Rancho JV
    Takes over. News at 11

    • FredJ

      When I heard yesterday this was actually going to happen, one of the names mentioned as a replacement was Gabe Lopez. While everyone at Amat maintains there is nothing going on behind the scenes, conspiracy theorists would have a field day if Lopez was named the next coach.

      I’m guessing its assistant coach Chris Beck’s job if he wants it. But then again, nothing would surprise me now. Would I love to see old-schooler John Romano get a shot, absolutely, but it appears they’re looking for a teacher-coach, not a walk-on.

      I’ll tell you this, though, it won’t be easy following in Nieto’s footsteps, that man has been an absolute winner wherever he’s been and has always been a class act to deal with it.

      • D Snitch

        Beck didn’t want it. His loyalty to the coach wouldn’t allow him to.

      • HardBall

        Heard Regan over at San Dimas is looking in to it.

        • no way Regan looks into it…he’s not an Amat”guy” let alone a parochial school type ….not necessarily a bad thing…but just an observation….Gano , was a square peg in a round hole for reference

    • didn’t Lopez play at Amat? then USC for Nieto?

  • Sports watcher

    Rumor is he’s going to Damien? If that’s the case, most of the boys that current play won’t be seeing the field that much. He wants hitters, good defense with real arms. He will find them. If he go to Damien, lots of parents will be left crying little Johnny isn’t playing. If Damien knows what’s best and they want a chance to compete against the Baseline League, they must let Al Leyva and his circus go and do what it takes to hire Nieto. I pray these parents understand, this man is the real deal. No more kissing butt or alumni nepotism. Andy will remove their goggles. He has no tolerance to soft players, whinny kiss butt parents.

    • FredJ

      I’m one who thinks Al Leyva has done a pretty good job. The Sierra League and Division 2 is tough and they’re always competitive and right there. But you’re correct, if for whatever reason should Damien and Leyva part ways, expect Nieto to look into it because of his close relationship with principal Hemenway, who hired Nieto at Amat before going to Damien.

      • Sports watcher

        Yes, its a tough league, but it will be tougher now that Damien is in the Baseline League. We left a few years ago and we expected to see a winning baseball program. To date, Damien can’t win league when every other school within a 5 mile radius clinches the league title. How do you explain that? They had a Grant Hockin on the mound this year and they almost had to beg for a wild card game. It just doesn’t add up. I’ve heard it’s the same old thing: Kids who’s parents kiss butt and/or are alumni have a preference over true talent. I also heard the AD Director may be replaced with Nieto. After reading this article, 40 plus kids he’s helped to go play college. Al won’t even answer an email from a college coach inquiring about a player. If Nieto goes to Damien, it would scare the parents. And they should be scared. He plays to win, hates soft players and kiss butt parents. I’m sure he already knows who those parents are and who those kids are. It’s a small world in baseball. Those who aren’t recognized will surface because he knows real talent and the talent it takes to go far. I only wish we could’ve had him there when we were there. Praying for Damien to make the right decision. And that decision is a new coach staff.

      • Sports watcher

        Andy Nieto will bring some boys over to Damien. He actively recruits. I won’t be surprised if his team is formed already no matter where he ends up. Poor little Johnny might not be in the lineup. Great coach and knows how to win, but comes with lots of skeletons. Good luck to Nieto! He will be wining wherever he goes.

      • HSBaseballFan

        Fred, I think your thought process regarding Leyva is a little flawed. Leyva has not done even a “pretty good” job considering the talent he has been given. He plays boys in wrong positions, tells one kid one thing, tells another kid the same thing then denys telling either kid anything. Don’t think Leyve would know the truth if the truth slapped him in the face. He looks for weak teams in the preseason which does not adequately prepare his boys. Leyva and Bast took the team to Las Vegas, over Thanksgiving, to play Bishop Gorman and had their respective hat(s) handed to them. Then they took to berating the boys on the trip home. Happy Holidays Damien Baseball! The only thing that will help Damien baseball is to get rid of Al Leyva. Leyva has started a summer Damien baseball program. The program started with threats to those boys who had other baseball committments, which would improve their baseball skills, or did not want to play. Pitty the poor kid who wanted to take the summer off and be a kid.

  • Not Since 1995

    People people people!!!!! You had you moment in the spotlight last week with this baseball stuff…. Please , lets move on to the sport that pays the bills!! FOOTBALL! It was reported last week that he was leaving. So please stop wasting everyone’s time with this nonsense. Thank you!

    • Here’s JOHNNY, or Little Johnn

      NS 95 you are correct my friend! I do like the way AMAT stole the day yet again! GO BIG BLUE!

    • Ernie

      go post on something football related than

  • Here’s JOHNNY, or Little Johnn

    Rumor has it Michael Young to be the next Coach at AMAT!

    • Ernie

      that would be too sweet!!!!!!!

  • Sports watcher

    Come on Nieto! The suspense is killing everyone!

  • D Snitch

    One Amat varsity starter officially withdrew from Amat today. Citing Nieto’s departure as reason for leaving.

    • Chingas

      I wonder who that was

  • Joe, Lola wants to know where Nieto will land and who will take over……she’s ready to close the deal if need be(wink)

    • I would say follow the money to Bosco. Plus, more freedom to, ummmm, well….more freedom. And they have an opening.

      Agree that he has the prior relationship to MHphd, so should a move be made at Damien that would more comfortable and secure. But they have a coach…until they don’t.

      • SJB makes sense… a bigger stage and their way of doing things there might be more to his liking. Lola is still willing to help out in any way she can.

        • Lola has always been very….willing!

  • Jaguar437

    Heard Nieto to Servite could happen.