NORMAN, Okla. Santiago Restrepo, the 2003 Conference USA Coach of the Year, is leaving his post as head volleyball coach at the University of Southern Mississippi to take over as the head coach at Oklahoma. OU Athletics Director Joe Castiglione made the announcement Monday evening.
“We are very pleased to have someone of Santiago’s quality and experience join our athletics program,” said Castiglione. “This was an extensive search that turned up a successful Division I head coach who has demonstrated the ability to not only run a program effectively, but to improve each year by recruiting and training top-notch student-athletes. We are extremely excited about what he will bring to our University.”
Restrepo (reh-STREP-oh) recently completed his third season at USM and led his 2003 team to a program-best 27-6 record. 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 tenure, including two in the most recently completed season. He leaves Southern Miss with a record of 52-40 (.565) and an overall mark of 127-72 (.638). Restrepo will be in Norman this weekend and plans to settle locally on Monday, Feb. 9.
“It’s an honor to be a part of a prestigious university and athletics department like Oklahoma,” said Restrepo. “I was very impressed with the manner in which they conducted their search for a new head coach. This program is in good shape and is prepared to create a winning tradition. I am extremely proud to say that I am Sooner and I can’t wait to arrive in Norman and get to work.”
Prior to coaching at Southern Miss, Restrepo served three seasons as an assistant coach at Saint Louis University under Marilyn Nolen from 1998-2000. Restrepo brought a tough training regimen to the Billiken program in 1998, and his dedication and work sparked an immediate improvement. That year, Saint Louis posted its fourth-best single-season winning percentage in school history at 21-7 (.750). In 2000 he helped the Billikens to 23 victories, the most since 1996.
During the summer of 1998, Restrepo served as a coach with the USA 14 & Under National Team in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was asked to return again in 1999 and 2000.
A native of Bogota, Colombia, Restrepo served as the women’s head coach at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University, 1995-97. 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 slate 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. 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.
Restrepo is married to the former Heidi Nichols of Ithaca, N.Y., and the couple has a son, Diego Ignacio, born June 20, 2003.
Restrepo is the just the fourth head coach in the history of OU volleyball. He follows Kalani Mahi who resigned Dec. 1.
“Santiago is a terrific fit for our volleyball program and for our athletics department,” said OU Associate Athletics Director Stephanie Rempe, who headed the search committee. “His enthusiasm and passion for the sport is very clear. We are confident that Santiago has the ability to take our volleyball program to the next level and we are looking forward to a lot of success.”