Jerry Scott, Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations
JONESBORO – Arkansas State University Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir announced Monday the hiring of Santiago Restrepo as the eighth head volleyball coach in program history.
“We’re very excited Coach Restrepo agreed to be our next volleyball coach,” Mohajir said. “Based on his credentials and experience, he is among the top coaches that this university has ever hired. His reputation is outstanding nationwide, and we look forward to him giving our ladies the best chance to be successful, not only in the Sun Belt Conference, but also on a national level.”
Restrepo (Reh-Strep-Oh) comes to A-State after one season as head coach at Oklahoma City University and previous head coaching stops at Oklahoma (2004-17) and Southern Miss (2001-04). Restrepo has compiled a career record of 400-267 (.600) in 21 seasons as a head coach, including a 294-229 (.562) mark in 17 seasons at the Division I level.
“We conducted a national search and actively recruited candidates from around the country, and we couldn’t be more excited that someone with the background, enthusiasm, leadership skills and coaching abilities the caliber of Coach Restrepo will now be leading our volleyball program,” said A-State Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director and SWA Amy Holt, who served as the chair of the volleyball coach search committee. “His experience and achievements as a head coach speaks for itself. We want to welcome him and his family to the Red Wolves family, and we are looking forward to the future of our volleyball program under his direction.”
In his lone season at Oklahoma City University, Restrepo guided the Stars to a 31-6 record and an appearance in the NAIA Championships. Restrepo saw the program become home to an NAIA All-American, four NAIA Scholar Athletes, Sooner Athletic Conference Title, Sooner Athletic Conference Hitter of the Year, six all-conference picks, five academic all-conference picks and four conference scholar athletes.
“I would like to thank my past administration at the University of Oklahoma – (VP for Intercollegiate Athletics Programs) Joe Castiglione and (Senior Associate AD) Greg Tipton – and at Oklahoma City University – (Director of Athletics) Jim Abbott, (Associate Athletic Director) Kelly Perry and (Senior Associate Athletic Director) Greg Kersgieter – for all their support and everything they have done for me,” Restrepo said. “I am very honored to be getting the opportunity to come to Arkansas State University and take over a program that has been successful. I also want to thank Terry Mohajir, Amy Holt and (Senior Associate Athletics Director) Dr. Abby Wilson for taking the time to show me around. I was super impressed with everything I saw, and I can’t wait to get started here.”
In 14 seasons at Oklahoma, Restrepo was responsible for the most successful era in program history. The Sooners compiled a 242-189 record in his 14 seasons with eight trips to the NCAA Tournament during his tenure, including six in a row from 2009-2014 and five consecutive 20-win seasons during that stretch.
Oklahoma’s sixth consecutive appearance in the postseason came on the back of a 20-11 record, highlighted by a road-win at No. 2 Texas to snap the Longhorns’ 34-match home win streak. A trifecta of Sooners became only the second trio to earn All-America Honorable Mention at the end of one season in OU history.
During his tenure, 14 Oklahoma student-athletes earned All-America honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and the organization recognized 10 Sooners with all-region accolades. The Big 12 Conference chose 29 OU players as all-conference selections and eight rookies earned a spot on the conference’s all-freshman team.
Seven OU players garnered various Big 12 Conference “of the Year” honors and 61 earned Academic All-Big 12 awards. A total of 13 Sooners were awarded with the College Sports Information Directors’ (CoSIDA) Academic All-District distinction. Suzy Boulavsky became the program’s first Academic All-American in 2010 after being named to the CoSIDA third team.
After losing his youngest son to leukemia prior to the start of the 2009 season, Restrepo returned from a leave of absence to lead his team to the NCAA Championship for the first time since the 2007 season. The Sooners finished fourth in the Big 12 after going 11-9 and 18-12 overall.
One of the most successful seasons in the program’s history came during the 2006 campaign as OU achieved in the biggest turnaround in Big 12 history. That year, Restrepo guided the Sooners to their first-ever win over Texas and the team advanced to the NCAA Championship third round for just the second time ever. Oklahoma finished the year ranked No. 12 in the final AVCA, its highest in history. Behind Restrepo’s leadership, the Sooners recorded the best winning percentage in school history with a 28-6 (.824) record and finished second in the Big 12 with a 17-3 mark.
All five seniors on the 2006 team earned All-Big 12 recognition. Restrepo earned Big 12 and Regional Coach of the Year honors and was recognized by CVU.com as its 2006 National Coach of the Year.
Prior to his time in Oklahoma, Restrepo spent three seasons as head coach at Southern Miss. In Restrepo’s final season at Southern Miss, he led his 2003 team to a program-best 27-6 record and was named Conference USA Coach of the Year.
That squad reeled off three winning streaks of at least six matches, including one eight-win string, the longest in school history. Three Golden Eagle players garnered All-Conference USA honors during Restrepo’s three-year tenure, including two in his final season. He left Southern Miss with a record of 52-40 (.565) and an overall mark of 127-72 (.638).
Perhaps the most remarkable part of the Golden Eagles’ 27-win season is that it came just two years after a nine-win campaign. The 2001 team went 9-19 and finished 11th in C-USA. One recruiting class later, his 2002 team improved to 16-15 and finished the conference season in eighth.
Ahead of his tenure at Southern Miss, Restrepo served three seasons (1998-2000) as an assistant coach at Saint Louis University under Marilyn Nolen. Restrepo brought a tough training regimen to the Billiken program in 1998, and his dedication and work sparked an immediate improvement.
Saint Louis posted its fourth best single-season winning percentage in school history at 21-7 (.750) during the 1998 season. In 2000, he helped the Billikens to 23 victories, the most since 1996.
Restrepo served as the women’s head coach at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University from 1994-97. He led the Warriors to a 21-11 record and a semifinal finish in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) in his first season in the league. East Stroudsburg posted its best record in school history with a 32-2 mark in 1996. For his team’s efforts, Restrepo was named PSAC Coach of the Year. During his tenure, he led ESU to a 75-32 (.735) overall record.
A former NCAA Division I All-American at East Stroudsburg, Restrepo was also a four-time all-conference selection. He earned team most valuable player honors all four years and was the co-winner of the senior athlete award in 1986. He was inducted into the East Stroudsburg Hall of Fame in 2004.
Following his collegiate career, Restrepo played one season professionally in France and returned to the United States where he played on the American Volleyball Players Pro Beach Tour.
He earned a 3A player rating on the AVP tour and had the opportunity to play against some of the giants of professional beach volleyball, including Karch Kiraly, Sinjin Smith, Randy Stoklos and Kent Steffes.
Highly involved with USA Volleyball and internationally, Restrepo served as co-head coach of one of two USA Volleyball under-22 select teams that toured Argentina in June 2005 and 2006. He was head coach of USA Volleyball’s A2 junior national team during its summer 2011 international tour.
Restrepo and his wife, Heidi Nichols, have two sons, Diego Ignacio and Javier Santiago. Restrepo’s youngest son, Javier Santiago, passed away from leukemia in July 2009 at the age of four. To find out what you can do to help promote childhood cancer awareness, visit The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center.