Toros Baseball Coach One of 1st to Make His Pitch for the Job Opening at Cal State Northridge

Times Staff Writer

The search is on.

Officially, the baseball coaching position at Cal State Northridge, which Terry Craven resigned effective at the end of this season, will not be available until Athletic Director Bob Hiegert writes the job description and posts it across the nation.

Hiegert, however, already has received phone calls from a few interested candidates, including Cal State Dominguez Hills Coach Andy Lopez, and expects to hear from plenty more in the coming weeks.

Requirements for the job?

"We will probably be looking for someone who has had head coaching experience at the Division II or Division I level," said Hiegert, who plans to select a coach by July 1. "Coaches with professional experience and assistants at the Division I schools will also be considered. Success at those levels would be necessary, of course.

"I don't want to irritate any high school coaches, but we really want someone familiar with the Division II or Division I experience."

In a profession where the vacancy of even one position is a rarity, these are high times for college baseball coaches. The job at Northridge is the second head coaching position in Southern California to open in the past two weeks. On April 12, John Gonsalves, who has coached at Cal State Long Beach for 19 years, announced his resignation.

Both positions are coveted because the schools have low tuition and entrance requirements that can accommodate a broad range of athletes. Also, they are located in talent-rich areas. Visions of Cal State Fullerton, which became a national power under former Coach Augie Garrido, are dancing in the heads of coaches who see that same combination working for themselves.

"Everyone knows that those are two potential giants in the making if the programs get support," said USC Coach Mike Gillespie, who is not a candidate for either job.

The Northridge position is especially intriguing because of the university's impending jump from Division II to Division I status in all sports except football. That announcement is expected at a press conference today.

Hiegert already has heard from Lopez and Pepperdine assistant Jim Gattis, both of whom are also rumored as strong candidates for the job at Long Beach. Pepperdine assistant Don Tamburro, who coached at Pierce College in 1985 and teaches at Kennedy High, has also contacted Hiegert.

Lopez, 34, has coached at Dominguez Hills for six years and has led the Toros to two consecutive California Collegiate Athletic Assn. titles and a trip to the Division II World Series last season. A former player at UCLA, Lopez recently inherited from Hiegert the responsibility of being the West Region chairman for the Division II All-American selection committee, a position Hiegert held for 16 years.

"I'm happy at Dominguez Hills," Lopez said, "but from a professional standpoint, like anyone else at a young age, I'm looking for a situation that would be a perfect match. I've always been intrigued with the program at Northridge."

Gattis, 35, said Monday that he will have an application on Hiegert's desk "no later than Wednesday." He has been an assistant at Pepperdine for four years and also has six years of coaching experience in the minor leagues.

"I'm anxious to be a head coach," said Gattis, who played at North Hollywood High, Valley College and UC Santa Barbara. "I still live in Woodland Hills and I'm closely connected with the San Fernando Valley."

UC Riverside Coach Jack Smitheran, who has won two Division II titles in 15 years and is another candidate for the Long Beach job, said Northridge might also interest him. Chapman Coach Mike Weathers and College of the Canyons Coach Len Mohney both said they probably would call Hiegert.

"We're going to conduct a nationwide search," said Hiegert, who squelched the rumor that he would come out of retirement and become the Northridge coach again after a successful 18-year career that ended with his second national title in 1984. "It's going to be interesting to see the names that come across my desk."

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