Doug Self, Sports Information Director
WEATHERFORD – SWOSU Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Battisti announced Wednesday his retirement from coaching, effective immediately. Battisti departs in the midst of his fifth season leading the Bulldogs and 29th season overall as a collegiate head coach.
“It has been an honor to sit on the bench and be called ‘Coach’ for the past 37 years,” Battisti said. “Some of the best moments of my life have happened when I was coaching. Most importantly, I want to thank all the players who played for me and I am forever grateful for their hard work, dedication and fighting spirit. In addition, I want to thank the coaches, faculty, Athletic Trainers, Sports Information Directors, support staff and athletic boosters who I have had the privilege to touch and cross paths with. Their friendship will last my entire life.”
“I also had the good fortune to work under some of the very best Presidents and Athletic Directors who understand the small-college athletic landscape, make you feel important and let you coach,” Battisti continued. “Finally, I want to thank my family. My wife Shelly has been forever optimistic and loyal and a psychologist to me for over 25 years. With that being said, I have made the decision that it is the correct time to retire and let someone else enjoy the sanctuary of the locker room.”
Battisti took over as the 14th head coach in SWOSU Men’s Basketball history in April 2013, leading the Bulldogs to three straight winning seasons and at least 16 wins apiece to open his tenure. He coached five players at SWOSU that earned All-Great American Conference distinction, including one GAC Player of the Year and one GAC Defensive Player of the Year. He departs from SWOSU with a record of 58-64 leading the Bulldogs and 467-360 overall after spending 21 seasons as the head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State from 1986-2007.
“Coach Battisti has been a valued member of the SWOSU community and we would certainly like to thank him for his years of service to our university,” SWOSU President Randy Beutler said. “He has led the Bulldog Men’s Basketball program with the utmost of class, recruiting and developing student-athletes who have represented our university in a first-class manner. Coach Battisti has dedicated 37 years of his life to the coaching profession, with more than a quarter century of coaching small-college basketball in Oklahoma, and we wish him well in his most-deserved retirement.”
SWOSU Athletic Director Todd Thurman has appointed Kris Johnson as the Bulldogs interim head coach for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank Coach Battisti for leading the SWOSU Men’s Basketball program with tremendous class and dignity for the past five seasons,” Thurman said. “I can’t say enough about how much he has meant to our athletic department as one of the greatest supporters and a true friend to each of our programs. We wish Bob all the best as he heads into retirement and we want to thank him for all of his hard work for Southwestern Oklahoma State University.”
Kris Johnson takes over as the interim head coach for the Bulldogs after serving as Battisti’s lead assistant since 2013. Prior to that, Johnson was a graduate assistant at SWOSU from 2011-13 and at his alma mater, Northwestern Oklahoma State from 2009-11. He played collegiately for the Rangers from 2005-09, appearing in 109 games and playing in two NAIA National Tournaments.
SWOSU returns to action on Saturday, December 30th, at the Pioneer Cellular Event Center against Randall University, with tipoff set for 3:00 pm. The Bulldogs then return to GAC action on January 4th against Arkansas-Monticello in the first of three straight home conference games to open the month of January.