Gum

Former Southern Arkansas baseball coach has retired as baseball coach at the University of Central Arkansas.

CONWAY -- The winningest coach in University of Central Arkansas baseball history went out with one final win Saturday.

With the 2021 season coming to a close with a "Senior Day" victory over McNeese State, UCA announced Sunday the retirement of head baseball coach Allen Gum and the promotion of associate head coach Nick Harlan.

Fittingly, Gum won his final game at UCA with a gritty 5-4 victory over McNeese at Bear Stadium, and retires with a school record 310 victories. Over a collegiate coaching career that spans just 16 years, Gum amassed 536 victories between UCA and his alma mater Southern Arkansas University, an average of 33.5 wins per year.

"We owe much gratitude to Coach Gum for his dedication and elevation of our baseball program,' said UCA director of athletics Dr. Brad Teague. "The success he achieved on the field and in the classroom is remarkable. From the major leaguers to the educators, lawyers, doctors, and leaders, he has recruited great men to this incredible campus and turned out even better ones. We wish Allen and Shenna the very best in their new chapter.”

Gum came to UCA in 2011 and promptly brought success to the program. His third team at UCA, the 2013 squad, won the Southland Conference Tournament in dramatic fashion and made the school's first appearance in an NCAA Regional. The Bears, the seventh seed in the SLC Tournament, won five consecutive elimination games to take the title. The Bears then beat all three teams at the Starkville Regional before falling in the championship game to the host Mississippi State Bulldogs, a team UCA had beaten two out of three in a regular-season series. MSU went on to finish as national runner-up to UCLA at the College World Series.

Gum is a native of Bentonville. He coached in the high school ranks at Sheridan and Batesville before returning to his alma mater SAU in 2006. He leaves the Southland Conference with the eighth-most victories in the history of the league. He led the Bears to eight consecutive SLC Tournaments from 2012-19 and reached the championship game four times, including consecutive seasons in 2013 and 2014. The Bears finished as runner-up in the most recent SLC Tournament held after the 2019 season.

"I've been thinking about it for a couple of years and I just wanted to make sure the program was in a great place when I left, and it is,' said Gum. "I feel like the foundation is solid and I feel like the future is going to be really bright for UCA baseball. Nick, being here eight years, just knowing how we do things, he'll keep that going. He'll do a great job.

"Most importantly, I'm grateful for Dr. Teague for giving me an opportunity to coach Division I baseball, coming from (Division II) Southern Arkansas, and taking a chance on me. And always being there for whatever we needed. And I'm thankful for everybody, Darrell (Walsh), Natalie (Shock), Steve (East) and Matt (Whiting) and all the administration. It takes a lot of people to have a solid program, and I'm grateful for that here at UCA. And Geoff (Thiers) and Scott (Brezee) from the academic side of things. They've done wonders for us, also.

"I'm just grateful for the opportunity. This is a family decision, a life decision. Don't know exactly what I'm going to do, but I'm just going to see what happens, take a break and go from here. I'm excited for our future, but I'm also excited for the future of UCA baseball. no question about that.”

Under Gum's guidance, UCA had 26 All-SLC selections, 17 All-SLC Tournament selections and had 11 players selected in the Major League Baseball draft since 2011.

"I remember my first couple of years how hard it was to finally get in the tournament our second year here,' said Gum. "And then that third year, what an incredible, magical season that was. Finishing 25th in the nation, one game away from a Super Regional. And being in the conference championship game four times was great.”

Harlan came to UCA as associate head coach and pitching coach in 2013. He joined the Bears after nine seasons as the head coach of York College in York, NE. His first pitching staff helped the Bears win the SLC Tournament and advance to the NCAA Regional.

During his tenure at York College, the Panthers won five conference championships, and earned five regional berths. During that time the Panthers were ranked as high as No. 8 in the country and in the Top 25 for four consecutive years. Harlan was a two-time MCAC Coach of the Year and in 2013 was named the York College Young Alumnus of the Year.

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