2005: Holder takes ‘true passion’ to AD job

One Mike Holder era has come to an end at Oklahoma State. Another is just beginning.

The legendary men’s golf coach, who oversaw the Cowboys’ program for 32 years, officially became the university’s vice president for athletic programs and director of intercollegiate athletics Sept. 16, leaving his coaching duties to take charge of OSU’s entire athletics department (Golfweek, Sept. 17).

“He has a true passion for OSU and is committed to graduating student-athletes, strengthening our athletic budget and improving our national ranking in every sport,” OSU president David J. Schmidly said.

Holder, 57, replaces Harry Birdwell, who announced his resignation as athletics director in June.

“This is a whole new ballgame for me,” Holder said in a telephone interview shortly before the official news conference. “It’s going to be a challenge, no doubt, but I like the opportunities that are here to build something that is unique and special.”

Holder was at the top of the list of candidates from the beginning and had strong support from influential boosters and the school’s administration. Still, it was a tough decision to make.

“All I have ever been is a golf coach,” Holder said. “And I love being a golf coach. It’s hard to give that up because of the passion I have for coaching. But I think this is a wonderful opportunity for me to do something to make a difference for the betterment of athletics at Oklahoma State. I just hope I am able to do that.

“I know I’m going to miss coaching. I’m going to miss the players, miss the competition and miss doing all the things to get ready to play and compete at the NCAA Championship. I have a lot of coaching friends, and I know I’ll miss them as well.”

One of those friends, Georgia men’s coach Chris Haack, said, “Everyone knows he’s a great coach, but what some people don’t see is what a great person he is. He has done more for college golf than most people realize. I know I will miss him out there, and I know college golf will miss him. But the success he had and what he’s done for the college game will always be remembered.”

Holder said he would recommend Mike McGraw to replace him as men’s coach. McGraw, the current women’s coach at Oklahoma State, served seven years as Holder’s assistant for the men’s team before taking over the women’s program last season.

“He’s been here nine years and knows the program,” Holder said of McGraw. “I feel he has all the qualities to make a good and successful golf coach.”

That would leave an opening for a women’s coach, and Holder said he would begin looking to “hire the best individual available to fill the position.”

Alan Bratton, currently an assistant coach with both the men’s and women’s programs, will continue in that capacity, Holder said.

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