Serrano also said lucrative shoe and apparel sponsorship contracts at Fullerton will allow him to make more money than he did at UCI.
Serrano said the lack of an athletic director at UCI — Paula Smith became interim A.D. after Bob Chichester resigned in June — was absolutely a factor in his leaving.
He said his decision to leave, announced to Anteaters players at a tearful meeting Friday afternoon, was the second toughest thing he has had to swallow in his life, after the death of his mom.
“I’ve heard words like betrayal, lies and deceit about my leaving UCI,” Serrano said. “But, at the end of the day, when I put my head on the pillow, I feel good about my decision. To the public, I may look like I was a liar and I was deceitful. But I know in my heart and I know people close to me know that the statement I made [about not having interest in the Fullerton job] was made out of loyalty and the friendship that I have with Rick [Vanderhook, a longtime Fullerton assistant who was passed over by Titans Athletic Director Brian Quinn in favor of Serrano].”
Serrano said Quinn told him when he left Fullerton after the Titans won the 2004 national championship that Serrano would be the next coach at Fullerton, if Horton ever left. Serrano said Quinn reiterated that to him on the field before the Anteaters played the Titans in the College World Series in June.
Serrano, named 2007 National Coach of the Year by Baseball America after leading the Anteaters to Omaha in his third season, said he cried like a baby when he informed the Irvine players, many of whom were also crying, of his decision to leave.