Butch Thompson (above) is making a return to Auburn.
“His integrity, his work ethic, his attitude towards the players that they come first and the experience he brings to the team and the experience he has in the SEC are all very impressive,” said Curt Cope, an All-SEC second baseman for the Tigers in 1976, who was a member of the search committee.
“There is a lot of desire in Auburn for the program to be successful in baseball and I believe Butch is the right man for the job,” Cope said. “We had a lot of great candidates to choose from because there was so much interest in the job.”
Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said that Thompson agreed to a five-year contract worth $350,000 per year.
Dr. Jim Matthews, who is a retired physician living in Auburn, was part of the search committee. “There were so many good candidates it was tough to narrow the list,” he said, adding that he is very pleased that Athletic Director Jay Jacobs picked Thompson.
Josh Donaldson, a star third baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays who played for the Tigers, also likes the hire. “Butch is a good man and a great leader," said Donaldson, who is a strong candidate to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award. "I’m happy he is back.”
Scott Shuman, a former Auburn pitcher who was on the team when Thompson was an assistant coach, gave the hire an enthusiastic thumbs up. “Hands down, Auburn hit a home run,” the current minor league player said.
“When you look at top baseball coaches around the country Butch Thompson comes to mind. If Auburn can’t win with Butch Thompson it is not in the cards. I am really excited for him.
“I talked to my former roommates, Joseph Sanders and Taylor Thompson, and told them I was going to Butch’s press conference and they were just ecstatic.”
Gabe Gross, a former Auburn quarterback, outfielder and Major League baseball player, said he really likes the hire. “Butch is such a man of integrity. My best thought about this is it is such a win-win in both situations. This is a well-deserved opportunity for Butch to be a head coach at a Power-5 institution and an SEC institution. Auburn gets a man of integrity who is going to develop not only baseball players, but help young men to have better lives. I can’t think of a better fit for Auburn than Butch.”
Auburn director of athletics, Jay Jacobs, used the words “character” and “integrity” to describe Auburn’s new coach and the athletic director noted that Thompson comes highly recommended.
“It was amazing to me the number of former players, not only just at Auburn but at other institutions, that called me about Butch--not only about his character and integrity, but how great of a teacher he was, and he was the kind of guy we would want our son to play for.
“We actually got calls and emails from players on Major League baseball teams of players that Butch had coached and just hearing what they those players had to say...”
Thompson, who was announced as Auburn’s head coach at a press conference on Thursday, replaces Sunny Golloway, who was fired after two seasons on the job. Thompson met with Auburn’s players prior to the press conference and told them he will be focused on doing what he can to make them successful and they are his first priority,
“I basically told them, ‘It's okay. It's going to be okay.' My plan is to love them up, coach them up and develop them so they give every ounce of their ability to Auburn University.”
Another player who was at Auburn with Thompson, minor league pitcher Ty Kelley, said, “I am so excited about the hire. He is a great man, a great person. He has done a lot for me behind the scenes, taught me a lot and grown me as a man.
“He has been around the SEC most of his career and he knows what it takes to build a team and win in the SEC,” Kelley added. “I was thrilled when I heard the news.”
Butch Thompson Profile:
Birthdate: Dec. 15, 1970
Hometown: Aberdeen, Miss.
Wife: Robin Thompson
Children: Anna, Olivia and Madelyn Gail
High School: Amory High, Amory, Miss., 1988
Junior College: Itawamba, Miss., Community College, 1990
College: Birmingham-Southern, 1992 (History)
Graduate Degree: UAB, 1996 (Sports Administration)
1985-87--Amory (Miss.) High School
1989-90--Itawamba (Miss.) CC
1993--Assistant Coach, Huntingdon (Ala.) College
1994-96--Assistant Coach, Birmingham-Southern
1997--Head Coach, Jefferson (Ala.) State Community College
1998-01--Assistant Coach, Birmingham-Southern
2002-05--Assistant Coach, Georgia
2006-08--Assistant Coach, Auburn
2009-12--Assistant Coach, Mississippi State
2012-15--Associate Head Coach, Mississippi State