By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
The feeling wasn’t all that unusual for Shanon Hays.
The current ACU athletic director had encountered it all too many times during his two years as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Texas Tech from 1999-2001.
Thirty-five times out of a possible 56 opportunities, the Red Raiders came up short against the opposing team.
The feeling of losing had become common, although the uncertainty following a first-round Big 12 Tournament loss to Oklahoma State was not.
Not only did the Red Raiders post the worst record in Hays’ coaching career at 9-19 overall, he was also unemployed after head coach James Dickey and his entire coaching staff was fired.
With questions abounding Hays knew what he needed to do, like he had so many times before. What makes this situation different from any other was that Hays was unemployed and unsure of what his future held.
While in college, Shanon had it all planned out. He wanted to play basketball and baseball. He wanted to go to law school or coach, in that order.
“I thought I would get away from sports when I got out of college,” said Hays, who was hired by ACU over the summer. “I was going to go to law school, but I changed my mind, and ever since I’ve been in the sports profession.”
Shanon started his collegiate career at Lubbock Christian University playing baseball and basketball, mostly because he wasn’t sure he wanted to play at Texas Tech for his father, Larry Hays.
His father said he shared similar feelings.
“I just felt that coaching my own son was something I didn’t want to do,” said Larry, the current head baseball coach at Tech. “I was hesitant because everything here is such a high-profile situation.”
After one year at LCU in which he lost 18 pounds over six weeks, Shanon transferred to Texas Tech and became a three-year letterman playing for his father, who is currently fourth all-time among active coaches in collegiate baseball.
The elder Hays started the baseball program at LCU when Shanon was a child and spent 17 years coaching baseball at LCU before moving on to Texas Tech, where he has spent the past 17 years.
After his successful stint as a baseball player at Tech, Shanon volunteered to help Tech basketball coach James Dickey during the 1991-92 season.
Dickey, now an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, said he noticed Shanon’s love for coaching back years ago.
“Shanon has had a great vision of what he wants to accomplish,” Dickey said. “He knows what he wants to do as both a father and a husband.”
Larry never doubted that Shanon could excel as a basketball or baseball coach.
“I always felt he could do both,” Larry said. “I felt he was a better baseball coach than basketball coach, but I wasn’t surprised.”
After spending the 1991-92 season at Tech, Shanon spent the next three years coaching at the high school level and an additional year at Frank Phillips College.
By that time, Shanon noticed that he might have to put off law school.
“When it came down to it I had to look at it and ask myself, ‘How do I want to spend most of my day, everyday?'” he said. “Coaching wasn’t a job, it was fun. I didn’t even consider it working.”
Look for the second part of this story in the Wednesday, Sept. 4 issue of the Optimist.