Arizona head coach Shelly Haywood will not return to the women’s golf program for the 2010-11 season, Golfweek has learned. Haywood took leave to attend to a private family matter April 5. The school said Monday that Haywood “will not be coaching at the NCAA Championships and will not return as head coach next season.”
“Being a head golf coach was my dream job and I really enjoyed it,” Haywood said in a statement released to Golfweek. “Sometimes as head coaches we have to make some very difficult decisions when it comes to how we run our program and not all the decisions we make are going to be popular with everyone. It’s very rewarding for me to see that the girls I recruited and the system I had in place was working. Going from No. 23 to No. 3 in the nation (or higher….) is a credit to the hard work and dedication that myself and the athletes put into this program. I’m happy they are successful and I am looking forward to building another successful golf program.
“I very much appreciate my time at the University of Arizona and the women’s golf program. I want the focus of the team to be on the upcoming NCAA Tournament and I wish them the very best at Wilmington.”
In Haywood’s absence, Arizona men’s coach Rick LaRose has stepped in as acting coach and assistant coach Laura Ianello has remained with the team. LaRose and Ianello have led the Wildcats to back-to-back victories at the Pac-10 Championship and the NCAA West Regional, and the duo will accompany Arizona to the NCAA Championship on May 18-21 at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C. The Wildcats are No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
“I’ve been with the women’s team for just over a month and we’ve had quite a run,” LaRose said. “The girls are playing extremely well, and I feel they will be contenders for the big one (NCAA title).”
Because the women’s national championship coincides with men’s NCAA regional play – the 37th-ranked Arizona men will compete May 20-22 at Carlton Oaks Golf Club in San Diego – assistant men’s coach Andy Barnes will assume coaching duties while LaRose is in North Carolina.
“If (the men) qualify for nationals, I’ll be there,” LaRose said.
LaRose said he could not comment any further on the reasons for Haywood’s absence.
Ianello said she is unsure who will lead the Wildcats next season, but said she hopes to remain at Arizona, where she played as Laura Myerscough from 1998 to 2003. She has been the assistant coach at her alma mater since January 2008.
“I love this program very much; it’s very dear to my heart,” Ianello said. “I will do anything I can to see them continue to succeed.”
Haywood was in her third season as head coach at Arizona. She had led the Wildcats to the NCAA finals each of the last two years.
– Ron Balicki and Lance Ringler contributed