UC Regents approve John Savage’s contract extension

John Savage took UCLA baseball further than anyone before him. The Bruins made sure he didn’t leave.

The two-time National Coach of the Year has often stated his desire to stay in Westwood. After winning the program’s first-ever title and turning down a reported million-dollar offer from USC, he is locked in until 2025 — his contract extension approved today by the UC Regents.

“I couldn’t be happier about their commitment, not only to me, but to the baseball program,” Savage said.

The 48-year-old coach, who just completed his ninth season, said improvements to Jackie Robinson Stadium were a significant part of the negotiation.

Most pressing is the need for an adjoining half-infield laid with turf. The addition would allow the Bruins to practice on the surface without having to practice on the football team’s Spaulding Field.

Savage hopes construction will begin as soon as this summer. Other possible facility additions include a new clubhouse, press box, restrooms and concessions.

Savage is arguably Dan Guerrero’s best hire. The athletic director needed three tries to find a successful football coach in Jim Mora, and his recent selection of Steve Alford has inspired little excitement around the basketball program.

“I cannot begin to express how much John Savage means to this program and to our university,” Guerrero said in a statement. “We’ve been together for many years, and this commitment is well-deserved for a person as extraordinary as John.”

He first hired Savage as the head coach at UC Irvine in 2001, giving him a year to rebuild a program that had been dormant for nearly a decade. Savage jumped to UCLA after three seasons, turning the Bruins into a national power.

UCLA’s national championship last month capped a run of three College World Series berths in four years. Since an eighth-place conference finish in Savage’s 2005 debut, the Bruins have placed no lower than third.

He is one of five coaches in college baseball history to win a CWS championship, and produce both a No. 1 MLB draft pick (Gerrit Cole) and a Golden Spikes winner (Trevor Bauer).

“We’re still building as a program,” Savage said. “Obviously, winning a national championship is a major step in the right direction. Our main focus is today.”