The hiring of a college softball assistant coach doesn’t usually make big news, but that is what happened Tuesday.
First of all, the transaction was at Arizona, which has won eight national titles since 1991.
Second, Mike Candrea hired a pitching coach who has 801 career victories as a head coach.
Candrea made a splash by bringing in former University of Washington head coach Teresa Wilson, a longtime softball confidant who spent the past four seasons leading Texas Tech.
“We’ve been friends for a long time and we joked about, ‘God, it would be great to coach together some time,’ ” Candrea said. “The time was right, and it was just a matter of me getting it done.”
The Wildcats have been without a full-time pitching coach since December, when Nancy Evans left the program. Local pitching instructor Gale Bundrick filled in as a volunteer during the 2008 season.
“I’m thrilled to be part of Arizona’s program,” Wilson said in a news release from UA. “I look forward to the opportunity to learn more from Mike and help continue the success the Wildcats have enjoyed.”
Wilson, 46, has worked with Candrea within the U.S. national team program, but not as an assistant with the Olympic teams.
She was 89-123 in four seasons at Texas Tech, and 532-198-1 in 11 seasons at Washington, winning Pac-10 titles in 1996 and 2000.
She has a career record of 801-448-1 in 20 combined seasons at Texas Tech, Washington, Oregon and Minnesota. She led Washington to the national title game in 1996 (losing to Arizona) and in 1999, losing to UCLA.
Wilson was a pitcher at Missouri, earning All-America honors as a senior in 1984. She was the Pac-10 coach of the year in 1989, 1996 and 2000. She was the NCAA coach of the year in 1989.
“She brings instant stability,” Candrea said. “I was always impressed with the type of game she calls. She’s got great knowledge and expertise.”
Could Wilson some day be a successor to Candrea?
“Obviously, I think she will definitely be a viable candidate when that time comes, but that was not in the conversation at all,” he said.
Wilson was removed from her job at Washington in December 2003 as the school investigated alleged drug-dispensing practices.
When Texas Tech hired Wilson in December 2004, Red Raiders athletic director Gerald Myers told the Dallas Morning News: “I’m fully aware of the situation there. I was convinced she didn’t have any wrongdoing there.”
Candrea concurred, saying it wasn’t an issue with him. Wilson filed suit against Washington in April 2004, alleging Washington “put forth no evidence that she had any involvement in or knowledge of any medical wrongdoing” and that she was removed because she was a woman. A federal judge eventually dismissed the suit.
Wilson has maintained her innocence, telling the Seattle Times in April 2007 that the internal investigation committee interviewed “kids who had left, kids who had an ax to grind, kids who thought they should have played and didn’t.”
The Seattle Times asked Wilson how the incident had affected her reputation.
“The alumni put together a notebook of all the letters they received from coaches across the country, alumni, parents, umpires, community people. The people who know you, know you. The people who don’t (know you) love to talk. Gossip and something sensational are the most interesting things out there.
“You wake up every morning and look in the mirror, and as much as it all hurts, you know you did nothing wrong.”
Wilson will join the team in time for this week’s exhibition games at Hillenbrand Stadium.
- Geoff Grammer contributed to this article.
UA SOFTBALL THIS WEEK
vs. Arizona Western College, 4 p.m.
vs. New Mexico, 5:30 p.m.
vs. Central Arizona College, 7:30 p.m.
vs. Cypress College, 3 p.m.
vs. Pima Community College, 5 p.m.
(All games at Hillenbrand Stadium)