On a hot Friday afternoon, Eck Stadium full of activity. None of it concerns a new baseball coach, however.
The Wichita Dodgers and Wichita Sluggers are playing in a tournament for high-school age teams. Shocker players Cale Elam, Foster Vielock and Erik Harbutz are running the scoreboard and sound system. They say they don’t know the identity of Wichita State’s next coach. Twelve days after WSU fired coach Gene Stephenson, the search for his replacement continues, although perhaps not for much longer.
“I think we’re really close,” WSU pitching coach Brent Kemnitz said. “It’s a real short list right now. I would hope this happens in the next few days.”
Kemnitz, a holdover from Stephenson’s staff, is on a recruiting trip through Oklahoma and Texas. He will remain on the staff as pitching coach, which means he is working with athletic director Eric Sexton evaluating candidates. Sexton, he said, is conducting the search with his input. Sexton spent the week in Orlando, Fla., at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics convention and is scheduled to return Saturday.
“We’ve talked to hundreds of people,” Kemnitz said. “We don’t want to rush. This program is perceived as elite, nationwide. You pick somebody who fits Wichita State.”
Sexton, in a text message, confirmed Kemnitz’s theme of patience.
“I am in the process of a thorough and confidential search,” he wrote. “We will let the media know when we have a new coach.”
Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner, who came to Wichita with his family to interview earlier this week, is staying at Dallas Baptist, the school confirmed on Wednesday. On-the-record information regarding other candidates is scarce.
• Wichita State’s search could be affected by other searches, or delayed by teams playing in the College World Series. Arkansas associate head coach Todd Butler, who has interviewed with Wichita State, may also be a candidate at Auburn. According to AL.com and the Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway interviewed for the job at Auburn on Friday and could be offered the position soon. Golloway’s decision could affect Butler. Butler, promoted to associate head coach after he turned down an assistant’s job at Texas a year ago, is often mentioned by publications such as Baseball America as one of college baseball’s top recruiters and a candidate for high-profile jobs.
• As of Thursday night, Wichita State had not contacted former Shocker Kevin Hooper, he said in a text message. Hooper, who played at WSU from 1996-99, is the manager of the Wichita Wingnuts and has confirmed his interest in the job.
WSU marketing team honored — Sexton was in Orlando, in part, to see his marketing team receive the Marketing Team of the Year award from the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators. The finalists for the honor were Iowa State and Kansas State.
Contributing: Bob Lutz