Harper’s assistant coach the past nine seasons, Tommy Wade, has been named interim coach of the Stars.
“I’m going to miss Ray because we’ve been like brothers,” Wade said. “I’ve learned from one of the best in Ray. But I am ready to be a head coach. I’m been preparing for this day for a long time and hopefully it will come true. I’m ready for the challenge.”
Wade, 50, is widely regarded as an outstanding recruiter. The Stars lost 10 players from their 2007 national championship team but still repeated as NAIA champs.
“I think it’s a no-brainer,” Harper said of OCU hiring Wade as his successor. “He’s the guy. He’s the right man for the job. With him, the system’s in the place and the ball just keeps rollin’.”
In Wade’s only season as a head coach he took Hopkinsville University Heights Academy to a 1990 Kentucky state high school championship. He’s spent the past 17 seasons as a college assistant at Murray State, St. Catharine, Missouri State, South Alabama, Kentucky Wesleyan and OCU.
“Tommy’s definitely a candidate,” Abbott said. “Tommy’s been a key part of what we’ve done here. Tommy’s pretty active in every element of the program and certainly as responsible for our successes as Ray has been. He’s expressed to us a definite interest and he’s somebody we’ll look at very closely.”