Wednesday, January 10, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 10, 2001

UH in no rush to fill baseball position

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

A College World Series champion might be crowned before the University of Hawaii names its new baseball coach.

Les Murakami’s successor might not be announced until after the baseball season, according to UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida. "(It’s) not like football," Yoshida said. "Circumstances are different. Timing is complicated."

More than 70 applicants made the mid-December deadline.

Although Murakami announced in May that the 2001 season — his 31st as UH coach — would be his last, the position wasn’t posted until the fall. The search was delayed out of sensitivity to Murakami’s announcement of his retirement, Yoshida said.

(Murakami, 64, suffered a significant stroke Nov. 2. He is undergoing rehabilitation).

Because the position was posted late, current coaches have been reluctant to publicly pursue the job during the school year. However, coaches can be nominated by someone else.

Nebraska’s Dave Van Horn, who recruited All-America pitcher Shane Komine out of Kalani, said he did not apply for the job. "It would have to be a situation where I would have to be contacted, if you know what I mean," he said.

Sources at the American Baseball Coaches Association meeting this past weekend said Oral Roberts coach Sunny Galloway was prominently linked to the UH opening. Galloway, whose mother is from Maui but now lives in Oklahoma, said he did not apply and has not been contacted by UH.

"There are always rumors at the convention," said Galloway, who has taken Oral Roberts to the NCAA tournament the last three years. "People just like to talk. I just stay away from that. There’s so much speculation on coaching moves."

Arizona associate head coach Bill Kinneberg said he applied for the job, but would not elaborate.

Baseball America magazine’s recent issue lists the top 10 assistants who would be top candidates for head coaching positions at major programs. College editor John Manuel said all 10 told him they would be interested in the UH job, but none would confirm submitting an application.

With the selection coming late, the new UH coach will have missed the fall signing period for recruits and will also be behind in the next signing period, which is April 11 to Aug. 1. Yoshida said that should not be a problem.

"You can miss a (recruiting) year and might be able to still fill some slots," Yoshida said.

Junior college transfers are usually available later, an applicant added.

A selection committee has already convened, and will make a recommendation to Yoshida.

Confirmed applicants with Hawaii ties are San Francisco Giants Class A manager Lenn Sakata, former UH assistant Coop DeRenne, UH-Hilo coach Joey Estrella, San Francisco State coach David Nakama, San Francisco assistant Chad Konishi, Brigham Young assistant David Eldredge and Saddleback junior college coach Jack Hodges.

Other known applicants are UCLA assistant Vince Beringhele and New Mexico coach Rich Alday.

Beringhele said he was runner-up for the UC-Irvine job, which went to former Southern Cal assistant Jack Savage. Alday, entering his 12th season at New Mexico, has five players from Hawaii on his current roster.

Even though the UH program has struggled in recent seasons, applicants say the job is attractive because of the facilities and talent available in the Islands.

Hodges, a 1965 Kamehameha Schools graduate, has coached at Saddleback in Mission Viejo, Calif., since 1990, guiding the team to the postseason the last seven years. He also has players from Hawaii, including all-state pitcher Reid Santos, who was drafted by Montreal after graduating from Castle High last year.

"To me, the key to winning at the UH is to keep the good Hawaii kids home and have a good networking system around the world," Hodges said. "Your job, for the next coach at UH, would be to fill the stadium. You’re going to fill it because you have some local kids (playing) at home."

The Rainbows are currently practicing under interim head coach Carl Furutani. They open the season Jan. 25 against Sacramento State.

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