OXFORD Interviews for the next Ole Miss softball coach could begin next week, athletics director Keith Carter said.

The search firm Venutra Partners helped the administration identify a list of candidates that Carter said he hopes to narrow to six or seven before Monday.

Transition began for Ole Miss softball last December when coach Mike Smith resigned after what had been termed a non-financial external audit of the program.

The Rebels were 12-13, 0-3 in SEC play under interim coach Ruben Felix when the remainder of this season was canceled.

“We’ve had a couple of calls with our search consultant,” Carter said. “We’ll start some interviews probably next week and try to narrow it down.”

Possible candidates could include Katie Rietkovich-Browder, an assistant at Minnesota who was the volunteer assistant and camp coordinator at Ole Miss under Smith, as well as LSU assistant Lindsay Leftwich and Alabama assistant Stephanie VanBrakle Prothro.

UAB head coach Jimmy Kolaitis is another possible candidate.

Smith went 146-94 with four NCAA Tournament appearances – two super regionals – in five seasons with a program that had struggle to win consistently before his arrival.

Felix will get a “strong look,” Carter said.

“I thought he did a tremendous job during the interim period.”

Meetings will be conducting through video conferencing, and candidates’ only chance to see facilities during this process will be through virtual tours.

Carter has been conducting video meetings with Ole Miss players.

“They’ve had a tough few months,” he said. “We’ve tried to assure them that we’re going to do everything we can to bring in a leader that’s right for this program. We’re going to try to move swiftly to keep building on the momentum and trajectory of the program.”


Twitter: @parrishalford

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