Men’s golf promotes James, continues search for head coach

CraZy Howard

As the No. 14 Minnesota men’s golf team prepares for the season opener on Sept. 27-29, the squad looks to distance themselves from an off-season that saw the departure of 10-year head coach John Means.

Means resigned Sept. 6 after an investigation found the coach had made eight separate airline ticket charges for his family on the University’s account. He later repaid the University.

Means arrived in 1991 and had coached the team to the NCAA Tournament the past eight years, including four-straight trips to the finals.

“Change can always effect a team in some manner,” interim head coach Brad James said. “But John (Means) and I have a similar teaching style so the transition hasn’t been difficult.”

The 29-year-old James was a member of the Gopher’s golf team from 1993-1995. The native of Australia returned as a volunteer coach in 1997 and became an assistant coach in 1998.

“My (interim) title will not be a distraction,” James said. “The players have responded well and taken a liking to me.”

A decision on a permanent head coach will be decided by men’s athletics director Tom Moe later this season.

Although Means is no longer the coach, he has agreed to stay on as a team advisor.

“John will be giving advice but he won’t be directly involved in the team,” James said. “He will lend a hand when needed.”

The team is expected to compete again for a Big Ten title this season and make a return trip to the NCAA tournament.

“Golf is our focus,” sophomore Simon Nash said. “Everyone on this team is very talented. We believe this season is going to be great.”

Nash, the only Minnesota golfer to advance to the final two rounds of last season’s NCAA tournament, said the new coaching staff has the same expectations the team has ever year.

“The transition has been easy and has gone very well,” Nash said. “(Coach) James has done a great job.”

The golf season was supposed to begin last weekend with the Minnesota Invitational in Hudson, Wisc., but the event was postponed following the tragedies on the East Coast.

The Gophers will participate in the Wolverine Invitational from Sept. 27-29 in Ann Arbor, Mich., to begin the season.

The team will take part in 10 tournaments this year, after recently adding a tournament in October at Duke University.

On May 3, the Gophers will compete in the Big Ten championships in Iowa. James expects the team to compete for the title.

“(Means) has set a level of standards that I need to maintain,” James said. “But I also hope to go beyond that level.”

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