By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
ARDMORE — Oklahoma has been without a baseball coach for two weeks. OU athletics director Joe Castiglione isn’t ready to say how the void will be filled or when.
However, he told The Transcript having to replace Sunny Golloway didn’t catch him off guard.
“It’s a thing where I don’t know if it’s a surprise because you have to be somewhat prepared for it,” Castiglione said after the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents meeting concluded Thursday morning at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. “You’re managing people so you cannot predict every single thing. So, we are where we are.”
Golloway — who went 346-181-1 and guided OU to the College World Series in 2010, four Super Regionals and to the NCAA tournament eight times in nine years in the OU dugout — left for Auburn on June 14.
Castiglione wouldn’t comment on specific candidates to fill the void, but the applicants OU has vetted are in line with a program he expects to continue winning at a national level.
Money was a major factor in Golloway’s exit. The deal he agreed to will pay him about $250,000 more a year.
However, that doesn’t mean OU hasn’t or won’t continue to invest heavily in baseball. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Sooners spent $808,135 on the sport in 2012, which is the last year reported. The Big 12 Conference average was $553,447. What OU spent would’ve ranked fourth among SEC schools.
Castiglione said that has been a major factor among prospective coaches.
“They want to know,” he said. “For us, it’s not just an opportunity to sponsor baseball as one of our 21 sports. We want to be successful in every sport we sponsor. We try to allocate resources that would help all of our sports be successful.
“Part of it is driven by our monitoring other programs we consider comparable. Part of it is driven by the way things are here at the University of Oklahoma. Certainly, part of it is driven by the success we may have had and the success we want to have in the future, which relates to expectations.”
So, what kind of expectations does Castiglione have for OU baseball?
Opinions on Golloway varied, but he averaged more than 40 wins a season in a major conference, and OU is the only Big 12 team that has played in the NCAA tournament the last two years, much less the current streak of six.
Castiglione points to the $2 million in renovations done at L. Dale Mitchell Park and more that are planned as a major selling point. He also believes playing in the Big 12 is still a major attraction.
Golloway said one aspect that pushed him toward Auburn was the SEC’s ability to consistently put eight or more teams in the NCAA tournament. The Big 12 only had three bids — a record low — this past season.
“It really doesn’t come up,” Castiglione said.
Part of the problem this past year was the struggles of Texas, TCU and Baylor. All three teams are typically in the field of 64, and all three have hosted regionals in the last three years. They all had down years. Don’t expect that to last forever. Castiglione all pointed out the improvements at Kansas State and West Virginia as strengths for the Big 12.
“I actually think people realize this is going to be a really tough league for baseball,” he said. “This year was more of an anomaly than a trend. Everyone is investing in their baseball programs and everyone is trying to be good.
“Facilities are improving throughout the conference. I think anyone looking at the opportunity at Oklahoma is going to be really excited and know they’re facing a tough road to win a conference championship, get a national seed and go far into the tournament.”
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