It was only a month ago Jim Duffy was extolling the virtues of his latest baseball recruiting class at Manhattan and how he couldn’t wait for next season to get here.
Now someone else will be in charge of that incoming class as well as the whole Jaspers baseball program. Duffy resigned his position in Riverdale to accept an assistant coaching job at Rutgers University.
“It came out of nowhere to be honest with you,” Duffy said. “It certainly wasn’t something that I was expecting or anticipating. It was a window of opportunity that presented itself that I didn’t see coming.”
Duffy had his fair share of success during his six-year stint with the Jaspers. He piled up 134 wins, logged four Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament appearances, and captured the 2012 MAAC championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament. But when opportunity knocked, Duffy felt the need to answer.
“It’s a better situation for me and my family right off the bat,” Duffy said. “That was the only thing that made it easy. What made the decision really tough was the players. I never anticipated it being so difficult leaving a Manhattan team that I had built with my assistants.”
Duffy’s goal at Manhattan was to build the program into something better than it was when he took over, realizing the path would likely take him to something better.
“It was really the first time in my career that I had a decision to make,” Duffy said. “But I feel I made the right one, although it was bittersweet.”
Because it’s the summer and Jaspers players are spread all over this time of year, Duffy didn’t have the chance to share any personal goodbyes to his players, which made leaving more difficult.
“If you were going to pick a time to leave for a transition, this was the time because the team is not together,” Duffy said. “But I felt bad because I couldn’t talk to any of the guys face-to-face. The first thing I wanted to do was call a team meeting and have them all in the same room. But I couldn’t do that.”
On the day he resigned, Duffy met with Manhattan athletic director Marianne Reilly after drafting a letter in an email to the team and everyone associated with them.
“I explained the situation and that this is what I decided to do,” he said. “I told them they would always be my guys, and I’d always be there for them. But I waited until after my meeting with Marianne and I resigned before I went back to my office and hit the send button.”
Duffy said he heard from many of his former players since his resignation and the response has been a mix of joy and sadness.
“The players have been tremendous,” Duffy said. “They have been super supportive, more than I ever anticipated. A lot of them were also disappointed in seeing me move on from our program, but they understand this is the best for my family.”
Duffy looks forward to this new chapter in his baseball life with a chance to compete in one of the top conferences in the nation.
“It’s a little bit different for me,” Duffy said. “It’s a bigger school for me after I had coached at Seton Hall and Manhattan, which are smaller private Catholic schools. The facilities we have and the commitment from our AD about the baseball program and how they want to build it up to be at the top of the Big 10. It’s very exciting.”
Duffy will become the new hitting and position player coach for the Scarlet Knights while also handling recruiting duties.
But still, he can’t help but take a look back to some of his favorite flashbacks in Riverdale, especially the Jaspers’ championship season.
“My best memory would definitely be the MAAC championship in 2012 and going to the South Carolina Regional (in the NCAA Tournament),” Duffy said. “That, by far, was the best memor,y but also how hard all my teams worked.”
Duffy always will be appreciative of Manhattan giving him his first head coaching gig, he said, and will always consider himself part of the Jaspers family.
“I’ll miss the people and the players,” Duffy said. “They are very supportive people there, and they gave me a tremendous opportunity to really springboard my career. I will always be a member of the Manhattan community. I won’t be a stranger around there.”