Wayne Graham leaving Rice after the 2018 season

- Rice baseball coach Wayne Graham told FOX 26 Sports his career with the Owls will end at the conclusion of this season.

“The athletic director (Joe Karlgaard) has informed me that my contract will not be extended at the end of the 2018 season,” Graham said. “I am totally committed to this year’s team and will give everything I have to place this team in the postseason. I love teaching and coaching and have no plans to retire.

Graham, who has been the Owls baseball coach since 1991, is in the final year of his contract at Rice.

“Multiple sources have informed me that a former player has been campaigning for my job, and has solicited the aid of other former players,” Graham said. “This has been extremely hurtful to my wife and I since we have loved and supported all these players."

Graham did not identify who that former player is. He did say that situation has been going on for more than a year.

“Perhaps it is time to exit Rice,” Graham said. “My wife and I love Rice and what it has stood for. So we leave reluctantly. I’m making this public statement to Rice Nation so that the people we have served all these years know exactly how I feel.”

Graham, 82, led the Owls to the College World Series title in 2003.

On his watch Rice has been to the NCAA Tournament 23 consecutive years, the third-longest active streak in the nation behind Florida State and Cal-State Fullerton.

That remarkable streak is in jeopardy.

The Owls are currently in ninth place in Conference USA, with the top eight advancing to the C-USA postseason tournament.

Graham's Owls have won or shared the conference regular season or postseason tournament title 21 of the past 22 years.

“I understand Coach Graham has made a statement regarding his contract, which expires at the end of the 2018 season," Karlgaard said in a statement released by Rice today.

"As is our practice, conversations regarding coaches contracts and tenure are conducted confidentially and professionally.  We do not comment on these or other personnel matters, and I will continue to proceed in that fashion.”

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