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Arizona Wildcats working hard to retain their ‘highly-sought-after’ coaches

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Wonder who Dave Heeke is referring to

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arizona vs UC Santa Barbara
Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Heeke has only had to make one coaching hire since taking over as the Arizona Wildcats’ athletic director in April — he tabbed Augie Busch to be Arizona’s new head swimming and diving coach — so he’s been spending time keeping the rest of UA’s coaches in place instead.

Heeke wrote in the latest Wildcat Wednesday newsletter that the UA has been “hard at work on efforts to retain some of our highly-sought-after coaches.”

“We’re not quite in a position to announce the final details of those efforts, but you’ll want to be on the lookout for that information,” Heeke wrote.

Of course, the natural reaction is to wonder which coaches he is referring to.

The one that immediately comes to mind for me is Arizona head baseball coach Jay Johnson, who was thought to be pursued by the Texas Longhorns after he led the Wildcats to the College World Series in his very first season at Arizona in 2016.

Some thought former UA athletic director Greg Byrne would have interest bringing Johnson to Alabama, too, but I’ve heard Byrne didn’t actually pursue him.

Another possibility is Adia Barnes, who is quickly making significant strides for Arizona women’s basketball on the recruiting trail.

The Washington Huskies were reportedly interested in hiring Barnes to be their new women’s basketball coach this offseason after Mike Neighbors left for Arkansas, but they went in another direction (it always did seem unlikely Barnes would make that jump, being a UA alumna and all).

There’s also a chance Heeke is referring to some of the school’s top assistant coaches.

Nonetheless, Arizona has an extremely strong group of coaches throughout its athletic department right now, and it’s assuring to see Heeke is doing what he can to keep them in Tucson.


Heeke also addressed the UA’s athletic facilities in this week’s Wildcat Wednesday, saying the school will be aggressive, but smart in its approach to building and/or upgrading them.

“As we lay out our plans for the future, we want to do our best to ensure we’ll be effective across the department,” he wrote. “We’ll share those details with you as we solidify plans and timelines.”

A couple things thought to be on the docket are upgrades to Hillenbrand Aquatic Center and Hillenbrand Stadium.

Meanwhile, building an indoor practice facility and continuing the Arizona Stadium updates remain a priority.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire