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July 19, 2000

ULM names Holland interim baseball coach

The University of Louisiana at Monroe said good-bye to the most successful baseball coach in school history -- Smoke Laval -- Wednesday and named his former assistant, Brad Holland, as the new interim head baseball coach.

Laval is leaving the ULM program, which he guided to three NCAA Regional Tournament berths in his seven years as head coach, to become an administrative assistant on the staff of Skip Bertman at LSU. Coach Bertman has announced his plan to retire at the end of the 2001 season and Laval is scheduled to succeed him.

"Under Coach Smoke Laval's leadership, ULM's baseball program has reached new heights as evidenced by the team's performance under his direction and particularly during this year," ULM President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr., said. "We are certainly proud of their (the team's) accomplishments, and are indebted to Smoke for his dedication and development of young student-athletes. We wish him well at LSU and will always remember the tremendous impact that he had on our university's athletics program."

Director of Athletics Warner Alford made the announcement of Holland as Laval's interim replacement at a press conference in the ULM Activity Center.

When Laval was hired, ULM went through a nationwide search and heard from assistants from many top programs. This time, Alford said that wasn't necessary.

"Our commitment to our baseball program is unchanged," Alford said. "We feel that naming Brad Holland as our interim head baseball coach provides the smoothest transition. He has recruited most of our current players."

Alford said that Holland will have the opportunity to prove himself in the position, as was the case with ULM track and field coach J.D. Malone. Malone served last year as interim track and field coach and had the interim removed from his title last month.

"He wouldn't be making this announcement now if we didn't think Brad was capable of continuing the strong tradition that Smoke has built here for our baseball program," Alford said. "I believe that Brad will do an outstanding job."

"Even as one chapter in the exciting world of collegiate baseball ends at ULM with Smoke's departure, so a new one begins as we announce today the appointment of Brad Holland as interim head coach for Indian baseball," Swearingen said. "We are confident that Brad and the talented young men that he has assembled will continue the tradition of exciting and successful baseball that our fans have come to expect."

Holland has served the last three years as the Indians' infield coach and recruiting coordinator. During that time, ULM has won two Southland Conference titles and 10 players Holland helped recruit have signed professional baseball contracts.

"Obviously this a very exciting time in my life for my family and myself. It's both exciting and scary at the same time," Holland said. "I want to thank President Swearingen and Warner Alford for having the confidence to allow me to fulfill my dream. To the administration, alumni, boosters and fans, I promise to continue with what has been built here at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and assure you that I will do everything possible to continue this program on its current path to the next level. And I wish to publicly thank Ray Smoke Laval for giving me this great opportunity to succeed him."

Prior to joining Laval's staff, Holland spent seven years at McNeese State as a player, student coach and assistant coach. He played and coached at McNeese under current Louisiana-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux, who guided the Ragin' Cajuns to the College World Series this season.

A native of Gilbert, Ariz., Holland played shortstop and second base at McNeese, earning All-Southland Conference honors. He was also an all-conference performer at Central Arizona Community College.

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