Gary Burns has served as the head baseball coach at Rockhurst since 1994 and was named the director of athletics in 2011. The Hawks won 28 games in their first season under Burns, who has compiled a 734-578 record over the past 25 seasons.
Burns has led the Hawks to 15 post-season appearances, including six berths in the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament. The Hawks advanced to the finals of the 2012 NCAA Midwest Regional. In 1999, Rockhurst captured the NCAA Central Regional and finished fourth at the NCAA Division II Championships in Montgomery, Ala.
The Hawks went back to the NCAA regionals in 2000 and 2003, losing to Central Missouri State in the regional finals both times. In 2004, Burns was named the Coach of the Year in the Heartland Conference as he guided the Hawks to the conference tournament championship.
Rockhurst finished third in its first season in the Great Lakes Valley Conference in 2006 and earned a berth in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. The Hawks finished second in the GLVC West and went to the NCAA Midwest Regional in 2009.
The Hawks have been finished in the Top 30 in the national rankings four times: sixth in 1999, 13th in 2000, 27th in 2003 and 24th in 2012.
Burns, who was a former pitcher, works closely with his pitching staff. Jonathan Krysa was a two-time ABCA All-American in 1999 and 2000. Reliever Logan McElwain was a third team ABCA All-American in 2006. Reliever Frank Allen was an honorable mention NCBWA All-American in 2007. Starter Mark Sappington was a third team ABCA All-American in 2012, and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft by the Los Angeles Angels.
Rockhurst's players have also succeeded in the classroom as the Hawks have graduated 91 percent of their players since 1994. The Hawks won the GLVC Academic Award and ABCA Team Academic Excellence Award in 2016.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Rockhurst, Burns was an assistant coach at Indiana State, Vanderbilt and Clemson.
A 1981 graduate of Vanderbilt University, Burns posted a 9-3 record with four saves and was the ace reliever on Vandy’s 1980 SEC championship team. He also played two seasons at Johnson County Community College. He had a 17-5 record with back-to-back ERAs of 1.16 and 1.92.
Burns lives in Leawood, Kansas, with his wife, Janet, and twin sons, Jim and Jack, who both play on the Rockhurst University baseball team.