By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — Sunny Golloway is no longer Oklahoma’s baseball coach. Golloway accepted the same job at Auburn Friday night. The announcement came less than 10 hours after he and his family flew from Norman to Auburn, Ala., earlier in the day.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity because I’ve always held the Auburn baseball program in very high regard,” Golloway said in a statement released through Auburn Friday night. “The history of the Auburn program was a huge factor in making this decision. Secondly, the Southeastern Conference is the top baseball conference in America. Being able to compete in the SEC is a challenge that we look forward to.”
Golloway did not return several messages left on his mobile phone voicemail Friday afternoon and night.
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione thanked Golloway for his time at OU in a statement released Friday night.
“We appreciate Sunny Golloway’s contribution to the Oklahoma baseball legacy and now look forward to an exciting new chapter for our program,” Castiglione said. “This is a place where coaches and student-athletes can realistically aspire for championships, including the national championship, and we anticipate great interest in our head coaching position from top candidates across the country.”
The Sooners are now in the market for a baseball coach for the first time since the summer of 2005. A source told the Transcript Friday night that Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner could be OU’s initial target. Heefner led the Patriots to a Super Regional in 2011 and also has won five straight games against the Sooners since 2011.
However, OU is expected to conduct a national search for its next coach.
Golloway just completed his eighth full season in the Sooner dugout, leading OU to a 43-21 record and its third appearance in an NCAA tournament’s Super Regional series in the last four years, and fourth overall.
Golloway’s tenure at OU began in 2005 when he became interim coach after Larry Cochell resigned with three weeks left in the regular season. OU went 12-6 with Golloway, who had left Oral Roberts to become an assistant under Cochell the previous year, serving as interim coach.
Initially, OU athletic director Joe Castiglione passed on promoting Golloway. An exhaustive search for Cochell’s replacement landed Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson. Stephenson held the job for one day before deciding to return to Wichita State.
Golloway was named head coach a few days later.
In all, the Sooners went 346-181-1 during Golloway’s eight-plus seasons. Those years included the school’s first College World Series appearance in 15 years in 2010. The Sooners missed the NCAA tournament just once (2007) during Golloway’s tenure.
Most recently, OU claimed its first Big 12 tournament title in 16 years last month.
However, OU was not able to claim a Big 12 regular-season title during Golloway’s stint. The Sooners finished tied for third this past season, bringing his conference record to 109-84-1 over his eight full seasons.
Auburn, which fired John Pawlowski last month after he went 167-126 over five years, has struggled to keep pace with some of the SEC’s programs. It’s made just one NCAA tournament appearance since 2005. The Tigers haven’t won an NCAA tournament regional since advancing to the College World Series in 1997. Golloway will be Auburn’s fourth baseball coach since the 2001 season.
Golloway was making $385,000 plus bonuses on his current contract at OU. There were still two years remaining on the deal.