published Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Chattanooga State preps for champion coach Beth Keylon-Randolph's exit

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    Chattanooga State softball coach Beth Keylon-Randolph

Chattanooga State's president confirmed Monday afternoon that he has been receiving inquiries and applications from throughout the nation for a coaching position that is not open yet.

The softball job has been advertised for two weeks in preparation for the possibility that national championship coach Beth Keylon-Randolph may be leaving, Dr. Jim Catanzaro said.

Keylon-Randolph, the school's softball coach since 2001, has a pending offer to move to an NCAA Division I program that fired its top two softball coaches last month for a collection of improprieties. The offer is not official yet, though, because she wanted to finish her Lady Tigers' fall season before resigning, and that runs through this weekend.

The NCAA's restrictions on contact with recruitable athletes mean a member school's coach cannot be working with players at a junior college or high school even in working out a notice.

Catanzaro confirmed that the coach has not resigned but has kept him abreast of her opportunity.

Steve Jaecks, Keylon-Randolph's assistant coach who also serves as Chattanooga State's athletic director, presumably would be going with her, but he too has not resigned. He would have to go through an interview process at the NCAA school and has not done so.

Keylon-Randolph acknowledged that an offer may be extended to her but declined comment beyond that.

"If there's a better softball coach in the country than Beth, I don't know of one," Catanzaro said. "She's been wonderful. I don't want to lose her, but if she does leave I do not want any lapse in time or quality. I want to keep this program at the nationally competitive level that it's been."

A state college must publicly advertise such positions before hiring new coaches, and Catanzaro moved quickly on listing the ads so the minimum requirement would be met by the time Keylon-Randolph did resign, if she does. He reiterated that he hopes she stays, but he has known for some time that she would be highly sought.

"Candidates all over the country have blitzed us already. They consider this a prized position," Catanzaro said. "And they should, with our level of competition over the years and with the facilities we have. And we have some of the best talent in the country right here."

The ads say the cutoff for applications is Friday, but the president indicated that is not etched in stone. And he reminded that an interview process would precede a decision on a new coach if the job does officially open.

Keylon-Randolph, a former Hixson High School and Tennessee Tech star pitcher and hitter, has been a Division I assistant, including two years as the pitching coach at South Carolina, and has been a private sotball instructor since her time at Tech. At Chattanooga State she has a 602-118 record with nine region championships since taking over for Frank Reed, who started the program and now is the coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

The Lady Tigers were 62-5 in their national championship season of 2012.

"Even in this process, Beth has been highly professional as always," Catanzaro said. "She loves this community and she loves this college."

Contact Ron Bush at rbush@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6291.

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