Greg Bartley is back at home at Engel Stadium.
Bartley, a Chattanooga Lookout from the mid-1980s who married a Sequatchie County woman and stayed in the area, returned to coaching baseball last week at Tennessee Temple University, which uses the Lookouts’ former ballpark for home games.
Bartley, a successful high school coach in Dunlap from 1989 to 2004, took over the Crusaders after Drew Whitley stepped aside during his second season as head coach.
“The administration wasn’t happy with the direction of the program, and Coach Whitley resigned,” said Jeff Rector, TTU’s chief operations officer.
Rector declined to get more specific, and Whitley did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Rector also announced Tuesday that TTU is bringing back softball with Randy Crawford as head coach. The school briefly had a program in the ’80s.
The 55-year-old Crawford, who attended Temple, has been the head coach at Ooltewah Middle School for 23 years and is about to begin his ninth season assisting Sandy Mauser at East Ridge High. He helped with the Ooltewah High program for five years.
“Softball is certainly a huge sport in Chattanooga, and we’ve talked about adding it for several years,” Rector said. “The timing just seemed to come together with Randy’s availability. He’s the type of person we want directing our athletes: He believes in character and the spiritual growth of students, and he’s interested in ministry.
“He’s active in his local church (Morris Hill Baptist), and he has ties to Temple.”
One of Crawford’s daughters, Kelli, is a sophomore softball player at Lee University, but another, Ami, is an East Ridge senior who recently signed to play soccer at Temple.
“Greg Bartley is like Randy,” Rector said. “Everybody knows him or knows of him, and he has the same qualities. He’s interested in the character and spiritual growth of athletes.”
Bartley, 50, is a former Methodist minister who has joined the SCORE International outreach founded by former Temple coach and athletic director Ron Bishop. SCORE is directed now by former TTU baseball coach John Zeller, whom Bartley met during his Lookouts playing days.
He has other Temple ties, including being led to Christ by fellow Mariners farmhand Lee Guetterman, who was born in Chattanooga with his parents attending TTU, and being taken under the wing of the Mattheiss family. Dr. J.R. Faulkner of Temple performed the wedding of Bartley and the former Candace Henson.
“This is a God thing,” Bartley said. “I’ve felt connected to this university for years, and now I’m here.
“This is a tough situation for these players,” he added. “Change is hard. But we’re going to emphasize Godly character and being accountable to this university, their education and me as their baseball coach.”
Crawford he will begin recruiting for the Lady Crusaders right away, starting with tryouts for current Temple students and unsigned Georgia players whose final season was in the fall.