Have we just entered a new era in college golf?
On the heels of capturing a second consecutive NCAA title, Augusta State coach Josh Gregory is headed to SMU.
SMU did not retain longtime coach Jay Loar after the Mustangs missed qualifying for this year’s national championship. Loar returned home from a sixth-place finish at the regional, two shots out of an NCAA berth, to a phone call from athletic director Steve Orsini. Expecting congratulations, Loar instead was told that his contract would not be renewed.
SMU was making room for Gregory, 36, a former Mustangs golfer. His stock was rising. He was a top choice to fill the vacancy at North Carolina and received serious consideration at Auburn two summers ago, before he had an NCAA ring.
This kind of move is routine in college football or basketball. But golf?
Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised.
Coaches have been growing the game for the past decade. They have raised the bar, building team-only practice facilities and raising awareness of their sport on campus. They have also changed the format in which they play the sport to make it more appealing to the masses. With all of that comes responsibility. And an expectation to win.
It’s a great hire for SMU and a no-brainer for Gregory, who will now try to execute his Augusta State plan in Dallas. He has been given a 5-year contract and a salary in the high $100,000 range that makes him among the top-paid coaches.
SMU might not have been considered one of the elite jobs in the game, but the school’s commitment to Gregory raised the bar once again.