Golf program put on hold
Michael Bauer, sports editor
The Pittsburg State golf program will be suspending operations for the 2014-15 school year.
On Wednesday, May 7, athletic director Jim Johnson announced that the golf team will not be competing during next school year.
During this time, university administrators will be teaming with an advisory board of former lettermen as well as local golf supporters in a comprehensive study and evaluation of the long-term viability of the program.
“We discussed it with Dr. (Steve) Scott and with key people in town who are golf supporters,” Johnson said. “It felt like the best way to do this was to put everything on hold rather than to just fix a hole in the boat while being in the middle of the ocean. We’re going to see if we can put the finances in place to see if we can have a program that’ll compete nationally.”
The board will look at different funding models and determine whether the golf team will continue in 2015-16.
“For a number of years, there hasn’t been a commitment to fund the golf program to a way to where they have a chance to compete in the MIAA,” Johnson said. “We have some teams in the conference that are good enough to compete nationally.”
The golf team has struggled at competitions with recently finished dead last out of the 12-team field at the MIAA Championships in April.
“We don’t want to sponsor a sport unless we’re giving them a chance to compete,” Johnson said.
With funding being the key reason for the team’s struggles, Johnson summarized the university’s plan in three ways to look at how to better support PSU golf: coaching, scholarships and travel expenses.
“I would like to think they will look at it as a whole,” said head coach Todd Loveland. “It’s going to take more funding. The commitment has to be at a higher rate than it is now but I believe it will return.”
From about 1990-2012, Pitt State has had a full-time university employee in charge of the golf team but only as a part-time coach. This changed in 2012 when the university hired Loveland who works outside of PSU.
“When (former coach) Matt Brock left, we moved away from that model and looked at other models and that was a part-time person who wasn’t a full time university employee,” Johnson said. “There’s positive and negatives of that model but we need to examine more to see how to have a full-time university coach.”
Whether the university decides to bring back golf is up in the air, but Loveland has expressed interests in coming back.
“I would love to return,” Loveland said. “I have not been offered yet but I would love it.”
As for the PSU golfers who will be returning from this year, their scholarships will be honored for the 2014-15 academic year. The funds currently budgeted for golf operations will be encumbered during the next fiscal year and remain available for the 2015-16 academic year should the program continue.
The PSU roster has ten golfers, which includes one senior, six juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen.
“It just stinks to have to work hard all of your college years to get to where you are and then this happens,” said Brandon Winfrey, junior business management major from Flower Mound, Texas. “Right now, there’s nothing much we can do except stay together.”
Winfrey, who transferred from Coffyeville Community College last year, did find a silver lining in having to take a year-off.
“This will at least give me some time to focus on my school work since golf does take a lot of time on my schedule,” Winfrey said.