As members of the South Carolina women's golf team return to school after the winter break and prepare for the second half of the 2007-08 season, they find themselves back in Columbia, S.C., without a head coach. Kristi Coggins, in the midst of her 14th season with the Lady Gamecocks, resigned from the job today.
No specific reason for the departure was given in a release issued by the school. "I am confident that in the best interest of the team and of this program, this is the right time for me to step aside and let another coach accept this challenge," said Coggins in the release. "I wish nothing but the best for the program and the University. My passion for coaching remains and I look forward to following the team's future successes."
"I was not expecting it," said Puggy Blackmon, who oversees the men's and women's teams as South Carolina's director of golf, when reached via phone this afternoon and asked about Coggins' resignation. "We were getting ready to have a golf coaches meeting this morning [when he learned of the decision]."
Coggins came to South Carolina in 1994 after nine seasons as women's coach at TCU. Her Lady Gamecock teams advanced to NCAA regionals every season except one (1998), but hadn't been back to the NCAA Championship since 2003. This past fall, the squad had just two top-10 finishes in five starts, its best showing being a T-6 showing at the season-opening Cougar Classic.
In the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, South Carolina earned the National Golf Coaches Association's All-Scholar Team of the Year award for having the highest combined grade point average of any team in the nation (3.752 in 2004-05; 3.677 in 2005-06).
"My time at the helm of the Lady Gamecocks has been one of many successes and overwhelming pride," Coggins said in the release.
A search will begin immediately to find Coggins replacement, according to Blackmon. In the meantime, he and assistant men's and women's coach Mike Burcin will oversee the program on a day-to-day basis.
"We're not going to be in any big rush," Blackmon said. "I think we've got a very attractive program here. I'm going to be looking at assistants that are ready for a head job that are coming from programs with proven track records. ... I feel like this is a whale of an opportunity for somebody."