Mercer hires Austin Peay's Kayden as men's coach

Kirk Kayden (right), who coached Austin Peay for 10 years, will become Mercer's men's coach.

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Kirk Kayden, who coached Austin Peay's men for the past 10 seasons, will be the new men's coach at Mercer.

Kayden, 40, replaces Steve Bradley, who resigned July 5 from the Macon, Ga., school to become the men's coach at South Florida after Chris Malloy accepted the Ole Miss job.

"It's an up-and-coming program," Kayden said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. "It's a good situation, a good place."

He has agreed to a four-year contract, the terms of which were not disclosed.

Golfweek first reported the hire Thursday, shortly after Kayden informed his players that he had resigned. Austin Peay confirmed the resignation Thursday night in a news release. Mercer had yet to announce Kayden's hire, pending a news conference.

Under Bradley, the Bears climbed to No. 32 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings last season after having won the Atlantic Sun Conference title and finished eighth in the NCAA Raleigh Regional.

Mercer returns nine players this fall, including senior Trey Rule, the A-Sun player of the year. Rule, of Eatonton, Ga., won the Dogwood Invitational earlier this summer.

Austin Peay, in Clarksville, Tenn., finished the spring at No. 78 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings but graduated three of its starting five. The Governors won the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference title, their second league championship under Kayden, before tying for seventh in the 2013 Tempe Regional.

"My heart is torn," said Kayden, a former state high-school champion in his native Ohio who earned three letters at Toledo. "Austin Peay has been so good to me. It's been a good ride here. I think we've put the program in a good place."

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