Degree of scrutiny for Dave Serrano

New UT jobs posted requiring bachelor's, but baseball didn't

Dave Serrano talks to members of the media after he was introduced as Tennessee's new head baseball coach during a press conference on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at Lyndsey Nelson Stadium.

Photo by Saul Young

Dave Serrano talks to members of the media after he was introduced as Tennessee's new head baseball coach during a press conference on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at Lyndsey Nelson Stadium.

Dave Serrano hasn't shied away from addressing the scrutiny of his academic credentials in the past, and he certainly wasn't planning to when he interviewed to become Tennessee's new baseball coach last month.

He said he had nothing to hide, and the members of UT's search committee felt the same way.

"I understand when you're working with higher education that it's going to be an issue," said Serrano, speaking with the News Sentinel during last week's baseball media opportunity at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. "I never tried to mask anything or hide anything."

As an assistant at Cal State Fullerton in 2003, Serrano obtained a bachelor's degree from The Trinity College and University. Classified by many as a "diploma mill," the institution is not accredited and will award the degrees for "life experience." According to its website, the The Trinity College and University is registered in Dover, Del., and based out of Spain.

Following a 2007 season in which he was named Baseball America's Coach of the Year for taking UC Irvine to the College World Series, Serrano emerged as a front-runner for the coaching vacancy at Oregon. Shortly after Serrano interviewed, a Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard story raised questions about the validity of his degree.

After Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny told the newspaper he was "reviewing" Serrano's degree, Serrano, who also interviewed at UT during that time, withdrew his name from consideration and ultimately landed at Fullerton.

Serrano, who spent two years at Cerritos College and one at Fullerton as a player, said he was urged by his "superiors" at Fullerton to finish the work toward his degree. The Trinity College and University was "the way they felt he could do it."

"Obviously, sometimes you make choices in life and there's scrutiny out there," Serrano said. "I would prefer to be judged by the people and the players over all my years of my coaching career, what I've done for people as a coach and a mentor and how I've led them in life and being successful.

"People could judge my education, but I know when it comes to coaching and leading young men, I feel like I have a doctorate in that area."

Shortly after former coach Todd Raleigh was relieved of his duties in May, UT, on its online job board, requested that its new baseball coach possessed a bachelor's degree, but it did not require one. That caveat in the job description was atypical of the school's previous and present requirements for its coaching positions.

Currently, UT is looking to hire three assistant coaches - two for men's track and field and one for volleyball. All three positions require a bachelor's degree and prefer a Master's, according to the job descriptions on UT's official website.

UT women's athletic director Joan Cronan, who, as interim vice chancellor of athletics, spearheaded the baseball coaching search after Mike Hamilton's resignation, said she wasn't involved in the hiring process when the job post was drafted.

"We did our due diligence and looked at (academic progress rates) and grade-point averages," Cronan said. "His history in there was as high as any of the coaches we looked at. The importance of graduating his players was very important.

"I thought he was the best total package for Tennessee."

In Serrano's final two years at Cal State Fullerton, his teams notched back-to-back APR scores of 939, 14 above the benchmark set by the NCAA. Only once, his first year at Fullerton, did a Serrano-coached team score below 925.

"I want the proof to be in the pudding with how many kids are graduated from this university and what we're doing with these kids and what they do when they get out of here," Serrano said. "And I don't just mean Major League Baseball."

Inheriting a program that was hit with APR-related sanctions during Raleigh's tenure, Serrano doesn't exactly have much room for error when it pertains to academics. With a hire that she considers to be a "home run" at the helm, Cronan said the program is in good hands with Serrano, no matter how he acquired his degree.

"Anybody who knows Joan Cronan knows that I firmly believe that they're students first and athletes second," Cronan said. "It was important that we hire somebody that academics was important to them. At the end of the day, I felt that academics were very important to Dave Serrano."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 64

westknoxvol24 writes:

We didn't hire him to teach english.If he wins no one will even care

RoadTrip writes:

Typical KNS attempt to create controversy. Move on KNS, there is nothing to see here. The rest of us did weeks ago. Joan said it all.

madmax22 writes:

I would rather have a guy with life experience degree as opposed to some of the academia experience some professors have.

thevoice writes:

Anybody that can make $200,000 to $400,000 a year without a degree gets an A+ in life from me. Go Dave, go!!! Looking forward to the season.

Lean_and_Hungry writes:

Non-story in a dead period for sports in general.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to westknoxvol24:

We didn't hire him to teach english.If he wins no one will even care

and who really gives a cat's rip where he got his degree if he fulfills his obligations to the University and those young men whom he will coach and lead. Hope he does well.

MaxPower writes:

We should have hired Serrano last time.

I think the degree question may have played a role, that's why it's a story.

I'd like for someone (Serrano or Hamilton) to address the question of why we hired Raleigh and not Serrano last time.

Do we take the guy with the mediocre results at Western Carolina or the guy who was successful here before and just coached a team to the College World Series?

And don't tell me Raleigh interviewed well. That's not possible.

sheldoncooper writes:

Go CDS, we need good coaches!

tennrich1 writes:

I usually dont slam on KNS but this is OLD news at best....I know its middle of summer, baseball all-star week and maybe one of the slowest sports weeks of the year, but this story was actually hard to read....each line seemed to be contrived to create some sort of controversially outcome....really unprofessional...hopefully we didnt harass Coach too much to dig this thing up...

eduardo writes:

the funny thing about all of this is the fact Oregon was raising issues about validity of his degree!! ha!

BleedsOrangeinMO writes:

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong here;
didn't Raleigh have a degree from some small college? My point is look where that got us!!!
Serrano should have his degree as he has earned it the hard way "OJT" in Sports Management.

skyhawk836 writes:

We educators left this child behind and now he has to try to live off of a half a million per year.
I feel terrible.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Dave Hooker is now covering southeastern recruiting for ESPN. Think KNS is kicking themselves in the rear?

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

SERRANO IS THE MAN!!!

Londonjohn writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agreed. Although a diploma shouldn't be a requirement for this job, trinity looks like a complete and total joke. Check these guys out. I am thinking of buying an MBA and two or three doctorates myself just to pad the resume. Amazing, just slide these guys a few thousand euros and you can call yourself a PhD grad without ever going to high school. From now on, you can all call me professor.

VolInIndy writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Would osu2 happen to be THE state university of Ohio? If so, I bet you have a BA in Art with a concentration in body ink and an MS in Marketing, concentration in sports equipment and memorabilia.

SummittsCourt writes:

who cares? why even write this article again!!!

Lets compare

4 years and nothing to show for it from Raleigh with an accredited degree (i am assuming here)

or

a proven winner with a DEGREE (he does have one) from an un-accredite institution.

7 years as a head coach, 6 NCAA playoff appearances, 1 National Coach of the year

No comparison at all.

KNS - shut up!!!!!!!!!!!!

The_Real_Orange writes:

Although I don't think a degree really matters for the job, the fact is this is just another way UT bends their own rules to suit them at the time. First the nepotism rule is cheated by naming "co-head coaches" in softball. Then when Kiffin was hired they said the defensive coordinator wont report to the head coach. Now when the coach they wanted for baseball doesn't meet their own qualifications, they simply change them. Welcome to hypocrisy at it finest!!! Just sayin...

volaholic45 writes:

Anyone else getting tired of people saying, "at the end of the day"?

volaholic45 writes:

Same with "just sayin'".

VOLinATL writes:

What amazes me is that they prefer Master's degrees for assistant coaches! Really? Unless the players are working on their dissertations while running laps on Tom Black Track, I think that is superfluous.

VolzsFan writes:

As a staff member at a place of higher learning, it is absurd that they do not require higher education as a condition of employment. He failed at Fullerton by their standards and came here to stay ahead of the posse. He was shunned by Oregon and many others. Yet in this era of what Hamilton turned UT into, he is welcomed. Sad shape this athletic program has become. This will not get fixed for decades.

veinsoforange writes:

KNS, the Jerry Springer of news media. Seriously, can't you guys write better articles anymore?

Do you really think stirring the butter churn will make you money in the long run? .....pathetic journalism!

barefoot43 writes:

Is this author Andrew Gribble or Andrew Dribble? Why write this story? Go to the rec fields and find a story to write and inspire some youth instead of being an "Enquirer" hack.

The1 writes:

In Baseball circles most of the best players skip college and go straight to the majors. So, it may be difficult to find a top notch coach with academic credentials. Also, there is no reason at all to require a degree of someone if said degree is not necessary for the job in question. For example, do the grounds keepers at UT or UF or Oregon have degrees? Coaching baseball does not require a degree. Being a good example to young men does not require a degree. Encouraging young men to finish there own degrees does not require a degree. I say if this baseball coach is successful on the field, keeps his players out of trouble, and continues to have a high graduation rate, then he is the right guy for the job.

atruevol writes:

Non issue. Move on

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Dave Hooker is now covering southeastern recruiting for ESPN. Think KNS is kicking themselves in the rear?

Readers continually trashed Hooker when he wrote for KNS. He did write some nonsensical headlines now and then. And he obviously went to print without an editor. But the guy did a pretty solid job. And he occassionally surprised with some good writing, a level above the scribbling that we're seeing now.

madmaxvol writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Baseball is different for this reason. It is the main sport where kids jump directly from H.S. to the pros.

Why not hire Todd Helton when he finishes his stint with the Rockies...wait, I'm pretty sure he left UT before he got his degree. What percentage of players in the professional baseball left before finishing college?

us43137415#376444 writes:

Would you amateurs quit telling the KNS reporters how to do their jobs? Enough is enough already.

They don't tell you how to push a broom, so quit telling them how to write a story, or what story to write about.

If you don't want to read the article (which most of you obviously did), check the headline, decide "nothing to see here," and move along.

Don't read the article, then proclaim "well, this is old news."

Kinda defeats the purpose, since you did what the reporters wanted you to do in the first place haha.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

As a staff member at a place of higher learning, it is absurd that they do not require higher education as a condition of employment. He failed at Fullerton by their standards and came here to stay ahead of the posse. He was shunned by Oregon and many others. Yet in this era of what Hamilton turned UT into, he is welcomed. Sad shape this athletic program has become. This will not get fixed for decades.

and I bet you rewrite history in the political arena too....man, been a while since I've read that many non truths in one statement....We must be doing something right Vol fans....

Ayres_Hall writes:

People hire who they want. "." A written job description with qualifications is nothing more than a candy store display.

Serrano is the guy we all wanted, regardless.

samvol writes:

OMG...who cares!!

eVOLved writes:

I do think the diploma mill controversy is interesting. Hopefully, he never completed an accredited degree because every time he sat in a classroom with a gifted professor from a research one institution in front of him, Coach Serrano's brain was also going 60 mph, thinking only about baseball.

UTVOL2001 writes:

If anyone was wondering, i dont care either!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Sweep Florida in a weekend series. That will educate some people.....

Volunatic writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Dave Hooker is now covering southeastern recruiting for ESPN. Think KNS is kicking themselves in the rear?

Some folks liked Dave Hooker. I don't count myself among that group.
KNS has chosen to put the majority of recruiting news on the GVX247 site. I think that would be true even if Hooker was still employed there. From what I have seen of the work by the 247 recruiting coverage, I think it is as good or better than most of Dave Hooker's recruiting coverage.
If he is doing well, I'm happy for him. Regardless, my gut feeling is that KNS doesn't miss him very much.

Volunatic writes:

in response to volaholic45:

Anyone else getting tired of people saying, "at the end of the day"?

Not this early in the day.

Volunatic writes:

in response to volaholic45:

Same with "just sayin'".

I agree with you for the most part on this one. However, on the few occasions when I use "just sayin'", it is always quite hilarious, and so I have to make an exception in that one case.

Volunatic writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

As a staff member at a place of higher learning, it is absurd that they do not require higher education as a condition of employment. He failed at Fullerton by their standards and came here to stay ahead of the posse. He was shunned by Oregon and many others. Yet in this era of what Hamilton turned UT into, he is welcomed. Sad shape this athletic program has become. This will not get fixed for decades.

So a cafeteria worker at Maryville College has weighed in on the matter. Very good.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Then of course, there are 'Eeyores' such as yourself who will find anything and everything they can to criticize UT about. When you can't lean on Vandy to draw comparisons, you will lean on Florida or Bama to compare us against. You're not a fan, never will be a fan, so what in that peanut sized brain of yours would EVER allow you to believe that ANY UT fan on this board is going to take what you have to say to heart?

Are you that dumb? Why would Serrano need a degree... it obviously hasn't done you much good.

Pompey writes:

......how did the last college graduate work out for you......hum..?

Volunatic writes:

in response to FearTheVols1252:

Then of course, there are 'Eeyores' such as yourself who will find anything and everything they can to criticize UT about. When you can't lean on Vandy to draw comparisons, you will lean on Florida or Bama to compare us against. You're not a fan, never will be a fan, so what in that peanut sized brain of yours would EVER allow you to believe that ANY UT fan on this board is going to take what you have to say to heart?

Are you that dumb? Why would Serrano need a degree... it obviously hasn't done you much good.

Your post makes the assumption that CSS has a degree. I don't think that is the case.

allvol32 writes:

in response to LaneKiffinsSpawn:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You sound like you're in 2nd grade - how long did it take you to think up such witty playground names? The idiot that you are comes shining through with each post...

volsfan74 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Some folks liked Dave Hooker. I don't count myself among that group.
KNS has chosen to put the majority of recruiting news on the GVX247 site. I think that would be true even if Hooker was still employed there. From what I have seen of the work by the 247 recruiting coverage, I think it is as good or better than most of Dave Hooker's recruiting coverage.
If he is doing well, I'm happy for him. Regardless, my gut feeling is that KNS doesn't miss him very much.

Wes Rucker is the best sports writer that covers UT sports.

FlaVol2 writes:

in response to westknoxvol24:

We didn't hire him to teach english.If he wins no one will even care

You hit the nail on the head westknox. He is here to teach and run the baseball team. He has the equivelent of a PHD in that profession.

FarmerVol writes:

If he were also required to be doing classroom duty it would matter. All coaches in HS should be required to teach coursework and have the specific degree as part of the deal to coach anything AT THAT LEVEL. This is different. What I see is just the typical educator's jealousy about pay. Funny thing is none of the educators put in half as much time during the week and no time on the week-end into their job like a coach does. They don't drive the bus, chaparone the players, take overnight trips on holidays, and a lot of other things all of you readers can think of. In fact most of them only work 3- 4 hours a day. I exaggerate somewhat, but the jobs are as different as night and day and incomparible. GBO

UTKin1992 writes:

I don't see the big deal. Rosters across the nation are filled with athletes who aren't REAL students! Why shouldn't we have a coach without a legit degree?

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Hey, we can dream...Someday it will hopefully not be a dream that we start beating people...

FWBVol writes:

in response to steamboatticket#484773:

Readers continually trashed Hooker when he wrote for KNS. He did write some nonsensical headlines now and then. And he obviously went to print without an editor. But the guy did a pretty solid job. And he occassionally surprised with some good writing, a level above the scribbling that we're seeing now.

I don't know if Dave Hooker wrote his own headlines or not. A lot of papers have copy editors and page designers that do the headlines. I know of several occasions when copy editors have used their own headlines rather than the headlines suggested by the writer of a story.

FWBVol writes:

OK, let's look at the whole thing another way without using any coach's name.

A college instructor has to have an advanced degree to teach in their particular field. You wouldn't want someone with a master's degree in literature teaching physics unless that person also had the advanced degree in physics.

I know of no college or university in the country that offers a bachelor's degree or an advanced degree in coaching college baseball. Yes, schools offer basic coaching classes with physical education majors, but as far as advanced coaching classes those take place away from the academic settings of a univeristy classroom and on the practice fields and courts of the profession.

I understand the importance of coaches setting a standard by having a college degree. But sometimes a coach without a degree might be able to make a stronger case of the pitfalls of a life without that diploma.

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