Daily Egyptian

Leroy Newton announces retirement

By Tony McDaniel

The SIU men’s golf team will have to find a way to replace the longest tenured coach in the program’s history for the 2014- 2015 season. 

Coach Leroy Newton announced his retirement from the head coach position of the men’s golf team after 19 years of service, Monday.

Newton said it felt like it was time to retire, but the Salukis are still in his thoughts.

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“I’ve been doing it for 19 years, it’s been a long time and I just thought it was best that I do other things,” he said. “Maybe we can get somebody younger to come in and take care of the golf team. I never wanted to leave and not have some good golfers on hand for the next guy.”

Sophomore Drew Novara said Newton told the team he would be departing a few days ago.

“It was pretty tough to see him go. He gave me the opportunity to come play golf here so that was tough,” he said. “We all loved him as a guy, but I guess he and the administration decided he had been here long enough.”

In SIU’s men’s golf history, the team has finished in the top three at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament eight times; Newton has coached the team to five of those.

He has also led the team to 11 tournament wins and coached 13 golfers to All-Conference awards.

The Salukis finished tied for seventh at this year’s MVC tournament.

Junior Steven Souchek said Newton’s announcement came as little surprise to him and his teammates.

“A lot of us saw it coming,” Souchek said. “Leroy is getting older, so it wasn’t a huge shock.”

The next step for the Salukis will be to find their new coach.

SIU athletic director Mario Moccia said he will assemble a committee in the coming days to find a new coach.

“The primary thing is we’re looking for somebody who can recruit, teach golf and be a good mentor for the guys,” he said. “They’re going to be interacting with a lot of high level people, so somebody who can also properly articulate the vision of the golf program and maybe do some fundraising.”

Newton said he is unaware if he will have any input on who the coach will be, but he would be willing to put in a good word for a few candidates.

“There’s a couple guys I know that would apply,” Newton said. “I think they’d be highly successful, and they’ve already been successful in Division II. There are a lot of good coaches out there and I’m hoping that they get a variety so they’ll have a good selection.”

Souchek said the team has met with Moccia, and said that they will hire someone in about a month.

Souchek also said despite having to work with a new coach this year, he has no interest in transferring.

“It’d have to be a pretty awful person to make me transfer,” he said. “I like SIU and I like everyone here.”

Moccia said overall he is pleased with what Newton has accomplished in his time as a Saluki.

“We certainly appreciate his long tenure with the program; he worked an unbelievable amount of years. The guy is a very loyal Saluki and we’re appreciative of his time he’s put in,” Moccia said. “We look forward to seeing him and him being around the program as we go into the next chapter of Saluki men’s golf.”

Newton said he hopes he will be remembered at SIU as a coach who stressed his players to be good athletes and better people.

“The only thing that I’d like for people to remember is that one, we stressed good grades, and two, we stressed good character,” he said. “All in all, that’s what I hope that the kids would remember, they had a good time, they had a chance to participate, and they were always competitive.”

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