More Recent Stories
Stephenson takes OU head baseball job
New OU head baseball coach Gene Stephenson
Guthrie native returns to home state
Gene Stephenson, owner of the highest winning percentage among active NCAA Division I baseball coaches, is the new
head baseball coach at the University of Oklahoma. OU Athletics Director
Joe Castiglione made the announcement Sunday afternoon.
The new Sooner coach will be formally introduced at a media conference
in Norman Monday.
Stephenson, 59, returns to the site of his first full-time coaching position after spending 28 years as the head coach at Wichita State, where he directed the Shocker program to the 1989 national championship and prominence on an annual basis. An assistant coach at OU under the legendary Enos Semore, Stephenson was in Norman from 1972-77.
His WSU teams won at least 40 games every season and never suffered a
losing record, despite the fact that he resurrected a program in 1977
that had been discontinued in 1970.
"One of the greatest coaches in the history of college baseball is
coming home in many respects," Castiglione said of Stephenson, who is a
native of Guthrie, Okla. "Obviously, we are delighted that Gene has
accepted the position. His record speaks for itself.
"The victories, the championships and the outstanding players he
developed are all very impressive, but the thing that strikes me is his
passion for the game, the impact he continues to make on the sport and
the impact he can have on Oklahoma.
"From facilities to promoting college baseball, Gene made the game a
happening at Wichita State. He is a man who engenders support and
Stephenson said a long-standing appreciation for OU led him to accept
"The hardest thing I've had to do my whole life is leave Wichita State,"
Stephenson said. "I poured my heart and soul into that program for 28
years. I always said there was only one job I would even consider, and I
mean anywhere, and that's the University of Oklahoma.
"I grew up in Guthrie and was always a Sooner fan. I turned down an
opportunity at the OU job in 1990 and I knew when I was contacted this
time that this would be my last chance. I want to try and make this
program all that I think it can be."
Stephenson's overall mark stands at 1,506-489-3. His winning percentage
of .754 ranks No. 1 in among active coaches, No. 5 all-time. The victory
total is the second-highest in NCAA history, trailing only Texas' Augie
Garrido, who has 1,542 wins in 37 years.
He was national coach of the year in 1982, 1989 and 1993, and was
Missouri Valley Coach of the Year 12 times.
Stephenson has coached three NCAA Players of the Year, one NCAA Pitcher
of the Year, three College World Series runners-up, seven CWS teams, 23
NCAA Tournament teams, 17 Missouri Valley Conference regular season
championship teams and 14 MVC Post-Season Tournament title teams.
Shocker standouts during his tenure included Joe Carter, Charlie
O'Brien, Eric Wedge Darren Dreifort and Braden Looper.
His 2005 team was 51-24 and finished second in the MVC's regular season
race, then won the league tournament. The Shockers were eliminated in
the regional finals by Tennessee at Knoxville, Tenn.
"The accomplishments at Wichita State are not the result of any one
individual," Stephenson said. "Everything was 'we.' We had a staff that
was loyal, dedicated players and a tremendous support base."
Stephenson hopes to take OU's baseball program to an elite level.
"It could be difficult the first year or two, but we're not afraid of hard work," Stephenson said. "Oklahoma is a program that can and should
be in the top 5 to 10 in the country.
"We have a long history of developing players and we're going to
continue that. We look forward to taking the Sooners back to Omaha and
winning the College World Series. We believe that can be done."
Stephenson, a 1958 graduate of the University of Missouri, and his wife
Paula, have been married 39 years. They have two children, Jay, 34, and
Ginny, 31, and four grandchildren.