OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -Oklahoma City University assistant Tommy Wade was hired as head coach of the program that has won the last two NAIA Division I basketball titles.
Wade's promotion came one day after Ray Harper resigned from the post after three seasons to pursue a major-college job. Harper has said he will either be the head coach at Western Illinois or an assistant at Western Kentucky.
Oklahoma City athletic director Jim Abbott said Wednesday that the school planned to wait until next week to name Harper's replacement, but he and university President Tom McDaniel made the decision to promote Wade after meeting with him Thursday morning, before Abbott left to attend the NAIA national convention in Louisville, Ky.
It will be the 50-year-old Wade's first head-coaching job at the college level.
``What a great opportunity,'' Wade told The Associated Press. ``I've been in this business a long time and for my first head-coaching job to be at Oklahoma City University, with its tradition, it's obviously a dream come true for me.''
Wade has been an assistant for the Stars during their run of three straight appearances in the Division I national championship game. The Stars lost 67-65 on a buzzer-beater to Texas Wesleyan in 2006, but rebounded to beat Concordia (Calif.) 79-71 in 2007 and Mountain State (W.Va.) 75-72 this season.
``I have been on the bench and I have been part of the preparation and have done the recruiting to win national championships and to be involved in national championships,'' he said. ``A lot of coaches out there can't say that.''
Wade's promotion continues a trend at Oklahoma City of assistants within the program ascending to the top job. In 1973, when the university still was in NCAA Division I, it hired longtime assistant Paul Hansen to replace Abe Lemons.
After Darrel Johnson led Oklahoma City to NAIA titles in 1991 and 1992, he left to become the head coach at Baylor. Johnson's assistant, Win Case, replaced Johnson, just a few weeks after Case had taken an assistant's job at Saint Louis. Case guided Oklahoma City to national titles in 1994 and 1996.
Oklahoma City's six NAIA championships are the most for any school. The Stars were the first team to reach the national title game three years in a row since Kentucky State did so from 1970 to 1972.

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