What happens to the eleven golfers left at UP?

By The Beacon | November 10, 2010 9:00pm

By John McCarty, Staff Writer -- mccarty12@up.edu

When the Athletic Department announced its decision to discontinue the men's and women's varsity golf programs at the end of the current academic year, players on both teams were left with two options: transfer to a new school or transition from student-athlete to full-time student.

With a combined roster of 16 players and a total of five seniors graduating, 11 golfers must rethink their plans for the future and whether or not they will be able to continue to compete in collegiate golf.

"It's never in your plan so it's really hard to believe," sophomore women's golf team member Rachael Fischer said. "You come here thinking ‘that's where I'm going to spend four years playing my sport,' and to have that change is very difficult to wrap your head around."

Current golf team members who elect to remain at the university will retain their present scholarships, and the Athletic Department will assist those team members who wish to transfer.

Athletes who transfer schools because of a program's cancellation are allowed to begin competing immediately, according to NCAA policy.

"I feel betrayed," freshman men's golf team member Jarrett Foote said. "It's almost like I've wasted two months meeting people only to get ready to leave again. We all like it here, it's why we came here."

For incoming freshman athletes the national letter of intent signing dates for golf run from Nov. 12 through 19, which means, according to senior men's golf team member Jake Wagner, that players who want to transfer also have to compete for open spots with freshmen.

"It's harder to transfer the older you get because coaches are looking at their investment in a player," junior women's golf team member McKennon O'Rourke said. "I could transfer but I'm so close to graduating that it doesn't make sense."

Fischer added that transferring schools mid-season can be extremely difficult because it is hard to find a school with an open spot on the team that is willing to offer financial assistance and also provides satisfactory academic support for a particular major.

According to Foote, it can be uncomfortable asking coaches you just played against for a spot on their team.

"Either coaches are happy to see you back on the market again or they're mad because you didn't choose their school originally," O'Rourke said.

With three top-five finishes in their fall season the men's team is ranked 115th in the nation, and according to an article by Lance Ringler on golfweek.com, they are ranked ahead of big name schools like Colorado, Kansas State, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Michigan State.

"It's really weird to talk to your coach about where to transfer or to ask teammates where they're going to school next year," Foote said. "It's weird to go to class or practice with a team who you won't be with in a year."

With the spring season just around the corner, both the men's and women's teams are preparing for their four final regular season tournaments.

According to O'Rourke, "it's hard to do well with the mentality of a dying program. But the better we play in the spring the easier it is to transfer."