Fanning Hired as Assistant Baseball Coach
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Roland Fanning, who has coached an All-America outfielder at each of his three previous schools – including the 2016 NCAA batting champion – is the final addition to the coaching staff of new Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione.
“Roland and I first met at an event in Colorado a few years ago,” Mingione said. “I was really impressed with his energy and his ability to communicate. He is passionate about baseball, has an infectious personality and really cares about his players. He has had tremendous success in recruiting and developing players throughout his career.
“Everyone we spoke with about Roland could not say enough great things about him as a coach, but more important, about him as a person. He is a perfect fit to our coaching staff and what we are trying to accomplish at the University of Kentucky. We’re excited to bring Roland, his wife Beverly, and their daughter Emery Jo into our UK baseball family.”
Fanning comes to UK from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he coached the outfielders, bunting and baserunning and was the recruiting coordinator in the 2015 and ’16 seasons.
As recruiting coordinator, Fanning’s work ethic made a startling impact. Inheriting a team that won only 16 games in his first season (2015) at Little Rock, Fanning and the Trojan staff hit the recruiting trail and revamped the roster. With 27 of the 33 players on the 2016 team in their first year at the school, Little Rock improved to 26 victories, including a school-record 17 Sun Belt Conference wins. The team’s third-place finish in the regular-season standings was the highest ever since joining the SBC. Little Rock led the conference with a .302 team batting average and set a school record for fielding percentage at .975.
A prime example of Fanning’s player development is the progress made by outfielder Ryan Scott over the last two years. After batting .103 as a freshman and .191 as a sophomore, Scott jumped to a .328 mark as a junior, his first season with Fanning, before compiling a monster season as a senior.
Scott led the nation this year with a .435 batting average, adding 12 home runs and driving in 66 runs. He set single-season school records for batting average, RBI, hits (94) and total bases (154). He was named first-team All-America by the American Baseball Coaches Association, Louisville Slugger and HERO Sports. He also was chosen third-team All-America by three other organizations.
Scott was a finalist for the 2016 Gregg Olson Award, presented annually to college baseball’s breakout player of the year. He was named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy as the national player of the year and was placed on USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List. Scott also was the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, leading the league in seven offensive categories, in addition to his national accolades. He was a seventh-round choice by Boston in the Major League Draft, the second-highest selection in school history.
Prior to his time in Little Rock, Fanning spent the 2013-14 seasons at Oklahoma State, where he worked with the outfielders and bunting game while assisting in recruiting. The Cowboys had a pair of 40-win seasons and Top-25 national rankings in his time there.
The Cowboys went 41-19 in Fanning’s first season, the most wins for OSU since 2008. The Cowboys’ second-place finish in the Big 12 was its best in five seasons. OSU finished with a No. 21 national ranking.
The 2014 season was even better, as Oklahoma State went 48-18 and won the Big 12 regular-season championship for the first time in school history. The Cowboys won an NCAA Regional and hosted a super regional for the first time in school history before finishing with a final ranking of No. 10 in the nation.
OSU had two All-Americans and totaled 13 first- or second-team All-Big 12 selections during Fanning’s two years with the team. In 2014, outfielder Zach Fish was a third-team All-America choice by the ABCA, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He also was the Big 12 Player of the Year and was a first-team All-Big 12 pick in both of Fanning’s years at OSU.
Fanning coached at his alma mater, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, from 2008-12. Assisting with all facets of the program, Fanning helped SE Oklahoma deliver a 163-105 record and five straight winning seasons. Fanning’s term was highlighted by a 35-19 record in 2011, including a Lone Star Conference championship with a 23-10 league mark, and advanced to the Division II NCAA Tournament.
During his term at Southeastern, Fanning helped coach four first- and second-team All-America choices, 25 first- and second-team all-conference selections, a conference pitcher of the year and two major-league draft picks. Among the honorees was outfielder Justin Miller, who earned second-team All-America accolades in 2011 after hitting .433 with 11 home runs, 47 RBI and 26 stolen bases.
“It’s exciting to come to the University of Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference, a great opportunity,” Fanning said of his decision to come to Lexington. “When I met Coach Mingione, I was attracted to his work ethic and his infections energy. He was locked into all the details. When I got the chance to work with him (at Kentucky), it was something our family couldn’t turn down.”
Originally from Coalgate, Okla., Fanning played at Carl Albert State College and Northern Oklahoma-Enid before finishing his career at Southeastern Oklahoma.
Fanning and his wife, the former Beverly Hemphill, have a daughter, Emery Jo.
For more information on the Kentucky baseball team, follow @UKBaseball on Twitter and Facebook or visit UKathletics.com.
What They Say About Roland Fanning
Josh Holliday, Oklahoma State Head Coach
“Roland, first and foremost, is a ‘people person.’ He has amazing energy for his players and team and a tremendous passion for the college game. You will enjoy his infectious personality and work ethic. He’s a very special guy with a great motor. He’s high energy, a relationship-driven person. He’s very team-oriented and will commit himself to the vision of Kentucky baseball. He’s a great piece for what Kentucky is building.”
Chris Curry, Little Rock Head Coach
“Roland is a high-energy coach and players love to play for him. He does an outstanding job relating to this generation of players. He has the ability to develop relationships with recruits and their families, making them feel a part of his family.
“(As a coach) Roland was very well prepared and had a detailed plan for everything. He led a team that was very aggressive on the bases and put a lot of pressure on defenses.
“I appreciate Roland and Bev taking a chance on Little Rock two years ago and helping turn our team into a Sun Belt contender. He’ll do a great job at Kentucky.”
Ryan Scott, Little Rock All-America Outfielder, now in the Boston Red Sox organization
“Coach Fanning worked with us on the mental side of hitting, getting our mind right before a game and getting focused on baseball. He was really good at getting us focused on the larger aspect of the team rather than our individual success. The more you look at the team, the better you do individually.
“Outfielders like to laugh that they don’t get much coaching, but we got a lot of of reps (practice repetitions) with Coach Fanning. It was nice to have him as our outfield coach, day in and day out.”
Aaron Fitt, Editor and National Writer for D1Baseball.com
“I first met Coach Fanning when I visited Oklahoma State. He has charisma and a magnetic personality. He’s a rising star, you can tell how much he wants to be great. He has enthusiasm and the ability to connect with people. He has a great personality and is a good baseball man who has learned from some of the best coaches in college baseball. He helped turn around Little Rock, almost got them to a regional this year, by overhauling their roster. He can identify talent and is a go-getter.”
Jon Adkins, Regional Cross-checker Scout, Los Angeles Dodgers
“I met Roland at Oklahoma State. Number one, he’s a great person and family man. What I see is his passion for the game, his energy. He’s always working his tail off and eager to learn everything. He genuinely cares about each of the players he brings in. He really relates to kids well and gets the most out of his players.”