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July 15, 2011 10:00 AM Tennessee: Degree Required

By Daniel Luzer

Last month the University of Tennessee hired Dave Serrano as the head baseball coach. The choice has been a little controversial. Serrano may have worked for a number of colleges, but doesn’t seem to have earned a real college degree himself.

Serrano was named Baseball America’s Coach of the Year in 2007 after taking the baseball team at the University of California at Irvine, where he was then the coach, to the College World Series. At his next school, according to an article by Andrew Gribble at the Knoxville News Sentinel:

In Serrano’s final two years at Cal State Fullerton, his teams notched back-to-back APR scores of 939, 14 above the benchmark set by the NCAA. Only once, his first year at Fullerton, did a Serrano-coached team score below 925.

He may be one hell of a baseball coach, but he’s not much of a scholar. Tennessee, when advertising for the head baseball coach position, preferred that the candidate have a bachelor’s degree.

Technically Serrano has a degree, though it looks like it’s pretty much bullshit. While Serrano attended both Cerritos College and Cal State Fullerton, his actual degree is from the Trinity College and University, a company registered in Dover, Delaware, and based Malaga, Spain.

The college doesn’t actually employ any academic staff or teach classes; it only:

provides a unique service of accrediting people based on their past experiences and knowledge through the route of Accreditation of Prior Learning. APL, which is also known as a non-traditional award, is an umbrella term which covers both prior certificated learning and experiential learning.

Serrano isn’t embarrassed, however:

“I understand when you’re working with higher education that it’s going to be an issue,” said Serrano, speaking with the News Sentinel during last week’s baseball media opportunity at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. “I never tried to mask anything or hide anything.”
“People could judge my education, but I know when it comes to coaching and leading young men, I feel like I have a doctorate in that area.”

This is sort of a good point. Beyond that, a baseball coach doesn’t really need a bachelor’s degree. He needs to coach baseball well. His academic credentials are irrelevant.

This seems not to be a lesson the athletic department at the University of Tennessee has learned however. According to the article, the school is now hiring for positions coaching volleyball and men’s track and field. In order to be considered for these positions one must possess a bachelor’s degree; the school prefers a master’s. And these are for assistant coaches.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

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