2001: Perspective - Sights, sounds and making the rounds

Heard and seen on college campuses . . .

This fall, the women’s college world will welcome two of its newest programs: UNLV and the University of California-Irvine. Don’t expect either to be your typical, take-your-lumps-for-a-while new kid on the block.

Both programs are bringing in highly ranked junior players who should make an impact.

UNLV’s group features three from the top 100 in the Golfweek/Titleist Performance Index (Hwanhee Lee, Young Pak and Tina Mabanta) and UC-Irvine has two of the top 50, including Stella Lee, who has been in the top 10 all summer. Joining Lee will be Walailak Satarak, who advanced to the second round at the U.S. Girls’ Junior.

Obviously a commitment from the athletic department and sufficient funding will make or break a new program; UNLV and UC-Irvine have the backing and the bucks. In the case of both schools, location plays a major role, too. Being located in the west will have its advantages. The pool of junior players to choose from is deep, and there are fewer schools out west to recruit against.

In the last decade, several schools have started women’s golf teams and have had the necessary ingredients to succeed. Tennessee, which started a women’s program in 1992, and Kent State, which is entering its fourth season, have made significant strides in a short time. But UNLV and UC-Irvine may follow the path blazed by the Vols and the Golden Flashes and succeed even more rapidly.

Since the NCAA went to a regional format for women in 1993, no first-year program has advanced to the finals of the Division I Women’s Championship. (Tennessee, in its first year, did play in the East Regional.) Expect to see UNLV and UC-Irvine taking part in regional play, and don’t be surprised if both programs find their way to the NCAAs in Seattle next spring.

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The best player on the Wisconsin-Eau Claire men’s golf team – defending NCAA Division III champions – is Ryan Quinn, who had one of the hottest summers of any college player in the country. But guess what? He won’t be playing for the Blugolds this season.

Instead, Quinn will redshirt in 2001-02 to work on another great talent of his – curling. Quinn has been invited to the U.S. Olympic trials in November. If he makes the curling team, he would represent the United States in Salt Lake City in February.

Quinn, who is coming off a fourth-place individual finish at the NCAAs, had a strong summer. The rising senior won Wisconsin’s state amateur, best-ball and match-play championships – the first player in Wisconsin to sweep all three titles.

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The purpose of having a national championship is to give the best teams a chance to be involved, correct? Barring any change, that will not be the case at the NCAA Division II Men’s Championship this spring, or anytime in the near future. A more appropriate name: the NCAA Division II Geographical Championship.

Here’s the deal: The nation’s Division II schools have been divided into 10 regions according to location. If a team gets selected to play in a regional, then it must win its regional to advance to the national championship, or garner one of eight at-large bids. This scenario undoubtedly will leave some of the nation’s best teams at home during the finals.

One coach summed it up: “I guarantee the last-place team will be more than 200 shots behind the winner.”

• • •

Kevin White, athletic director at Notre Dame, has gone on record stating he wants his golf programs to compete at the national level. That shouldn’t be too difficult, right? After all, Notre Dame is . . . well, Notre Dame.

The new Ben Crenshaw-designed Warren Golf Course and the addition of scholarships have provided White’s programs a terrific starting point to become a factor in Division I.

Why, then, did Notre Dame wait until mid-August to hire a coach? The Irish job was being talked about back in June.

The school hired two coaches with prior college coaching experience in men’s coach John Jasinski (Toledo) and women’s coach Debby King (Memphis).

But the fact both coaches were named so close to the start of a new season means the Irish are behind in recruiting, and thus will have to wait a little longer to taste success.

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