After 19 seasons directing the Arizona State men’s team, Randy Lein has learned that his contract will not be renewed for the 2011-12 season.
“I was not expecting it,” Lein, 60, told Golfweek. “A change was made, right or wrong, and I will support whomever comes in. ASU has always been great to me.”
Lein, who was hired in October 1992, led the Sun Devils to the 1996 NCAA Championship and coached two NCAA individual champions: Todd Demsey (1993) and Alejandro Canizares (2003). This past season, Arizona State placed 18th at the NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Okla., after tying for fourth at the NCAA South Central Regional. Arizona State finished the season No. 26 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
“I never wanted to reach a point where I thought I was degrading the program and just hanging on,” said Lein, who added that he did not think that was the case, but did admit that this past season was a struggle. “This last year was tough for me. I was excited with the team I had. On paper, I thought we were going be awesome.”
In Lein’s 19 seasons, the Sun Devils won 44 tournaments, but had not found the winner’s circle since the Olympia Fields Invitational in fall 2009. Eight of those victories came at the Pac-10 Championship, and five were in NCAA regional play.
Arizona State placed ninth at the 2011 Pac-10 Conference Championship. It was the Sun Devils’ worst conference performance since 2002, which was the only year Lein’s ASU team did not advance to the NCAA Championship.
“That was so disappointing at Pac-10s,” Lein said. “I saw a little more urgency at regionals and thought maybe at nationals we could turn a a disappointing year into a successful year. That did not happen.”
Lein, who was voted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2008 and a seven-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, directed the Sun Devils to the NCAA tournament in 18 of his 19 seasons in Tempe. That streak is tied for second in the nation with Florida, behind only Oklahoma State during the past 19 years. Eleven times in those 19 years, the Sun Devils finished inside the top 10.