NCAA Clears Golloway Of InfractionsFeatured
Former Auburn coach Sunny Golloway wants to clear his name, and he wants to coach college baseball again. Golloway, who led his teams to 16 regionals in 18 seasons as head coach at Oral Roberts, Oklahoma and Auburn, was fired by Auburn in September of 2015 and accused by the university of “knowingly and repeatedly [breaking] Auburn and NCAA rules,” as an Auburn statement put it. He was fired for cause and denied severance.
But now Golloway says the NCAA has informed his attorney that he has been cleared of culpability for any NCAA infractions. “Their word was we are not personally at risk, we are not going to be named,” Golloway said, referring to himself and his former assistant coaches. “We are cleared, and they are closing the book on (pitching coach) Tom Holliday and Sunny Golloway in this matter.”
An NCAA spokesperson declined to comment to D1Baseball, stating: “The confidentiality rules prevent us from commenting on current, pending or potential investigations. The only time we do release information on a case is when it has gone through the Committee on Infractions and it releases its findings and penalties.”
But D1Baseball has obtained a copy of a letter that Shepard Cooper, the director of the Committees on Infractions, sent to Golloway’s legal team on Jan. 30. The letter states: “This is to confirm that the Office of the Committees on Infractions has no record of Sunny Golloway having past involvement in any Level I/Level II/major NCAA infractions.”
The NCAA’s investigation into any potential infractions committed by Auburn is still open, and it’s possible that the Tigers could be found guilty of minor infractions. But Cooper’s letter makes it clear that Golloway has been cleared of major infractions, and Golloway says he has been cleared of all infractions, which should provide reassurance to an athletic director who might consider hiring Golloway this summer. Cooper did not respond to a request for further clarification, and Auburn has not yet responded to requests for comment.
Golloway’s lawsuit against Auburn for breach of contract is ongoing, but that has no impact on his status with other potential employers. “Auburn had the right to fire me, but they just had to honor the contract,” Golloway said. “At the time of my firing, there was a contract in place that wasn’t honored.”
So the legal saga isn’t over yet, but Golloway is eager to resume his career.
“To be honest with you, a lot of people have said during the process, after the NCAA investigation and the outcome, they would call and congratulate me. I don’t really feel that congratulations are in order, because I feel that the opportunity to coach has been taken away from my staff and I,” Golloway said. “I’ve gone through this very carefully to make sure that we do the right things to clear our names and our character, because that’s really what this is about. At no time have I run a program where we cut corners, we cheated, or we broke NCAA rules. I say that with a clean conscience—we did it right.”
The silver lining for Golloway has been the time he has spent watching his son Callen play baseball for his high school team in Oklahoma. Callen, a speedy middle infielder, is learning how to switch-hit from former major leaguer Micky Tettleton, and Golloway has enjoyed spending time around the team.
But he said he still misses putting on a uniform and being around his own team. This time of year, with the season fast approaching, Golloway said his dreams at night are filled with lineup cards and travel logistics and baseball players.
“It’s very unusual, I’ve been in baseball my whole life, and I had the rug pulled out from under me, which shocked me at the time,” he said. “That shouldn’t have happened. I’ve had to diligently cooperate to get my name cleared, which it is now.
“But I can’t give you the words to describe the hard times, and how much I’ve missed baseball. I was talking with coach (Augie) Garrido, telling him how much I missed it. He very eloquently said it best, as Augie always does: ‘It’s the players and the camaraderie, coming together at a certain time that you look forward to.’ Pulling together to accomplish it, working hard but also laughing along the way. That’s the part you missed. You do it so long, your body is programmed to do it.”
Golloway admits that he’s a “polarizing figure in the sport—I always have been.” Back in November of 2015, he laid out 11 allegations against him and gave his side of the story. He knows that he ruffled some feathers during his two years at Auburn, but he said he doesn’t have regrets about his tenure there.
“I look back and I think that, I was at Oklahoma and we were really rolling, things were great. Auburn came and offered me basically double what I was making at the University of Oklahoma. Sometimes you make decisions for financial reasons,” Golloway said. “Everyone I’ve ever talked to says, ‘Nobody’s going to blame you for that.’ I think sometimes you realize those are the wrong reasons why. Do I have regrets about going to Auburn? No, I really don’t. Because I think you live and you learn. If that contradicts what I said earlier about the financial temptation — I had a curiosity about the SEC and the schools that you compete against. A lot of those guys — Tim Corbin and Kevin O’Sullivan, Dave Van Horn, Rob Childress — I have so many friends in that league, guys I’ve competed against for years. But I enjoyed my time at Auburn. To say, ‘Would you have done things different?’ I will still tell you that I will always do things in the best interest of the student-athlete. If that means having to make personnel changes, then I will have to do that, because it’s best for the student-athlete. I would hope they would agree with that.”
But Golloway does not want to rehash the circumstances surrounding his departure once again. His focus is on the future.
“It’s been, ‘Pause and have time to reflect, appreciate the accomplishments and blessings,'” he said. “Now it’s time to get back to work.”