Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt hasn’t been bashful about giving young candidates their first head-coaching jobs.
He went that route again on Friday, naming 30-year-old Adrian Gregory the Red Raiders’ head softball coach. Gregory comes to Tech from Sam Houston State, where she was an assistant the last four seasons.
Gregory replaces Shanon Hays, who was forced out on May 13.
“We talked to coaches throughout the country,” Hocutt said. “We talked to head coaches, assistant coaches. We talked to individuals that were very accomplished collegiate and professional players, but there was a name that kept coming forward as a rising star in the profession, somebody who was respected throughout the entire game of softball, somebody who people had circled as was going to be a great head coach when her opportunity presented itself.”
Gregory was a four-year starter and two-year captain at Texas A&M from 2002-05. The Aggies’ Jo Evans, a college head coach for 28 years, called her “the best leader I have ever coached.” Gregory was an assistant with the New England Riptide, a pro team, in 2006-07 and an assistant at Utah from 2008-10.
Before that, though, Gregory was born in Post and lived in Lubbock until age 7. She grew up in Livingston, about an hour north of Houston.
“My grandmother had a Raider Red statue on her TV stand,” Gregory said. “So I’ve known about (Tech) since I could walk, and my family loves red. That was automatically attractive to me. But just the talent pool that was here already and part of being in the Big 12, I just think there’s not a better place to be.”
Gregory takes over a team that finished 35-19 this season but didn’t receive an invitation to the NCAA tournament.
Hocutt said Gregory had agreed to a five-year contract and will make $100,000 next season. Her total package is still being worked out, but Hocutt said he expects the contract to be signed in the next few days.
Hocutt said six candidates received face-to-face interviews. Tech senior women’s administrator Judi Henry spoke with Gregory several times by phone, Hocutt said. Gregory interviewed in Dallas and then was brought to campus last weekend.
“I’ve grown up in a Red Raider family,” she said. “My grandmother was from here. I have extended family from here. It took me a little longer to get here than they wanted, but I’m finally here. So I’m eternally grateful to Kirby and Judi and everyone that made this an opportunity for us to move forward in Red Raider and Lubbock country.”
Hocutt said after hearing good things about her, Gregory sold herself during the meeting in Dallas.
“The impression that she made was tremendous — the energy she brought into the room that day, the positive attitude,” he said. “Her background was one that really piqued my interest, and then we invited her to come to Lubbock and spend a day with us and visit with a number of people, and we continued to be extremely impressed.”
Since being hired as athletic director a little more than three years ago, Hocutt has hired four first-time head coaches. He inherited another such coach in women’s tennis coach Todd Petty.
“It’s worked out pretty well with Todd Petty in women’s tennis as he’s brought home two Big 12 Conference championships,” Hocutt said. “It’s worked out pretty well with (baseball) coach (Tim) Tadlock as we’ve advanced further than we ever have. It’s worked out pretty good with coach (Kliff) Kingsbury. Our fan base has never been more unified or more excited. We’ve never sold more season tickets than we have in football since coach Kingsbury has been here. And it’s going to work out very well with (women’s basketball coach Candi) Whitaker as well.”
Sam Houston State had a composite record of 115-104 the last four years. The Bearkats’ 2013 team broke school records for batting average (.321), hits (559), home runs (59) and runs batted in (290).
That team finished 37-24. Sam Houston State went 27-27 this year.
Gregory pledged to bring an exciting style of play.
“We’re going to run. We’re going to move. We’re going to play great defense,” she said. “We’re going to wear our Red Raider uniform proudly. People who are already tied in to Tech and they love it and they love the game, you’re going to be pleased. I guarantee you.”
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