For college golf fans, it is never fun to hear of a program being eliminated. But the news seems to have a bigger impact when it happens to a school that seems to be a good fit for golf.
Tulsa announced Thursday that men’s golf will be eliminated effective July 1, 2016. In a news release, the school said a decision had been made after careful consideration by university administration with input from trustees and stakeholders. With the elimination of men’s golf, Tulsa will offer 17 sports: 10 women’s teams and seven men’s teams.
“All university departments are regularly asked to examine their available resources and readjust their programs as needed to align themselves with financial realities, and the athletic department is no different,” said Derrick Gragg, Tulsa’s vice president and director of athletics. “This was an extremely difficult decision, but after much deliberation, we made the tough call to eliminate the men’s golf program.”
Head coach Bill Brogden, who was hired in 1986, has spent 30 years as coach of the Golden Hurricane men. Tulsa has been to the NCAA Championship 10 times in school history, with seven of those trips under Brogden, most recently in 2012. Since the NCAA regional format started 27 years ago, Tulsa has been to the postseason 23 times. Brogden has guided Tulsa to 10 conference titles: seven Missouri Valley, two Western Athletic and one Conference USA.
“Coach Brogden has represented our program exceptionally well during the past three decades,” Gragg said. “His contributions and those of his many teams will always be a proud part of Golden Hurricane history. We thank him for all he has given to the TU family.”
The decision affects six golfers. Tulsa will honor all scholarships granted to current team members. They also have the option to transfer.
“We are committed to helping these young men complete their education at the University of Tulsa or facilitate their transition to another university where they can continue their education and athletic career as well,” Gragg said.
Dale McNamara, who chairs the parks and recreation board for the city of Tulsa, was the university’s longtime women’s golf coach. In the mid-1970s, when threats of men’s program being cut to comply with Title IX gender-equity regulations, McNamara stepped in and coached the men’s team. Well-known instructor Hank Haney was on that team.
“It breaks my heart,” McNamara said. “I was surprised as anyone else. It hurts. It’s a blue day in Tulsa. The whole state is hurting because of the oil crush. I don’t think people understand how that affects everything. Everyone is pulling in their belt a little bit.”
Tulsa finished 16th out of 20 teams last week at the Desert Shootout in Arizona. The Golden Hurricane are scheduled to play the UALR First Tee Classic on March 28-29 in Little Rock. Ark.
With four freshmen, one sophomore and one junior, Tulsa has struggled this year and stands 217th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
– Beth Ann Nichols contributed to this report