Tennessee has hired Cal State Fullerton's Dave Serrano as its new baseball coach, a university spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
A press conference is set for Thursday at 2 p.m. to present Serrano as the Vols' replacement for Todd Raleigh, who was fired last month after four disappointing seasons.
“After an overwhelming 24 hours of events, I have made the decision to leave a great program at Cal State Fullerton to take on the challenge of returning the University of Tennessee to a spot among the nation’s elite,” Serrano said in a university statement. “While this decision was not an easy one, it makes it a little easier to say yes when you have an entire family completely in support for you. We hope to be proud and active members of the Knoxville community and will work hard to give Volunteer fans a baseball team that they can cheer on for years to come.”
Serrano, who was in Knoxville for an interview today, served as an assistant on Rod Delmonico's staff at UT from 1995-96. His career blossomed thereafter, as he moved out west and served as a top assistant at Fullerton from 1997-2004. His first head coaching gig came in 2005 at UC Irvine, where Serrano, over three seasons, led the Anteaters to postseason appearances in 2006 and 2007 and their first College World Series in 2007.
Serrano's success continued at Fullerton, where he's been since the 2008 season. The Titans won no fewer than 40 games in each of Serrano's four seasons, all of which included a trip to the NCAA tournament. Fullerton's last trip to the College World Series came in 2009.
“Dave is a proven winner and is a perfect fit as the head baseball coach at the University of Tennessee,” interim vice chancellor for athletics Joan Cronan said in a university statement. “He has taken two programs to the College World Series as a head coach, and we are confident that he is the right coach to lead our program to national prominence.”
According to the Orange County Register, Serrano's base salary at Fullerton was in the neighborhood of $140,000, but he was likely receiving close to $300,000 because of compensation from baseball camps, equipment contracts and playoff bonuses.
On Tuesday, UT interviewed South Carolina top assistant Chad Holbrook for the position. Through a statement released by South Carolina this morning, Holbrook pulled his name out of the running. Former Vol Chris Burke and Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt were also considered for the position.