By Jay Coulter
In a move that surprised some, Auburn baseball coach Tom Slater stepped down on Saturday after a meeting with Athletic Director Jay Jacobs. In four seasons as Auburn's head coach, Slater had an overall record of 115-113 and a Southeastern Conference record of 43-77.
Throughout the season, Jacobs has been vocal in his support for Slater. Things seemed to change in recent days as Auburn fell from contention for the SEC Tournament next weekend in Birmingham.
Slater’s fate was sealed when he lost the first two games in Auburn’s final series of the year this weekend at home against LSU. Slater waited until after Saturday’s 11-7 loss to tell the team. Auburn finished the year with an overall record of 28-28 and 11-19 in the SEC.
"The bottom line is we needed to win more games," said Slater. "The record speaks for itself. I wish I had been able to accomplish that. I wish I had been able to win more games for Auburn University. This is a great university with a storied baseball program. I'll be rooting for Auburn no matter where I am unless I'm playing against them."
You have to give Slater props for handling the situation in such a class manner. Auburn will honor the final year of his contract.
Jacobs also deserves some credit. He stepped up and did the difficult, but right thing. There’s no doubt he could have retained Slater with little backlash from those that pull the purse strings. Hopefully, this shows that Jacobs is growing in his job.
Auburn will now turn its attention to a search for a new coach. The University has retained Carr Sports Associates out of Gainesville, Florida to assist in its search.
One name that has already surfaced as a candidate is current Samford coach Casey Dunn. The former Auburn All-American led the Bulldogs to the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title in his second season and was named conference coach of the year.
This year, Dunn has Samford heading to its conference tournament as the number two seed. Jacobs has set no timetable for the coaching search.