Kansas University men’s golf coach Kit Grove officially was fired as the program’s head coach Thursday, ending the KU graduate’s five-year run as the leader of the program for which he once starred.
Grove’s contract was set to expire at the end of June, and Sheahon Zenger, who now has terminated two coaches since taking over as the school’s athletic director in January of 2011, elected to make the change on Monday. Thursday, senior associate athletic director Debbie Van Saun, who is the sport administrator for men’s golf, met with Grove to make it official. Shortly after that meeting, Van Saun informed the team of the department’s decision.
“We have decided to go in a different direction,” Zenger told the Journal-World Thursday night.
He has not been shy about expressing his expecation that a winning culture return to all of KU’s athletic programs.
“I appreciate Kit,” Zenger said. “He’s an alum, a former student-athlete, and we appreciate all that he’s contributed to the program.”
Grove, originally from Superior, Neb., played at KU from 1995-97 and took over for his former coach, Ross Randall, in 2007. During his first season in charge, he led KU to a sixth-place finish at the 2008 Big 12 Championship but never again finished that high. KU finished seventh in 2009, last in 2010, ninth in 2011 and last again this season, which ended in late April.
Despite being disappointed by that stretch as well as this week’s news, Grove’s love for his alma mater remained strong.
“I represented KU and carried a KU bag in two national championships, and it was a couple of the proudest moments of my life,” he said. “I’m a Jayhawk, I’ll always be a Jayhawk, and I appreciated my time here as a student-athlete and the opportunity to take over for my mentor in coach Randall. Obviously, we both wish it would’ve lasted a lot longer, but the thing about college athletics is you gotta have more W’s than L’s, and we’ve had a couple rough years.”
Zenger, who also fired former KU football coach Turner Gill last November, said the search to replace Grove would begin soon.
“Just like in other searches we’ve conducted, it’s a personnel matter, and it will be conducted in a thorough and quiet manner,” Zenger said.