Kevin McPherson said he felt “sick to my stomach” Monday.
The Augusta State men’s golf coach thought he had everything lined up for Saturday’s 36-hole tournament. With the Jaguars needing to defeat four teams to qualify for the NCAA Division I Tournament, McPherson said he believed everything was in order.
But with Bethune-Cookman’s late withdrawal from the event, Augusta State fell one win short of qualifying for the regionals. Now, McPherson is clinging to the hope of an appeal to the NCAA tournament committee, believing he has a
“We did everything we were supposed to do under the NCAA guidelines,” he said. “I’ve been coaching for seven years and have never had a team cancel on me.”
Augusta State, the 2010 and 2011 national champion, finished its home tournament in early April four wins under .500 – the requirement for making postseason
With the Jaguars having one day of competition left, McPherson fielded one final event.
Gardner-Webb, Georgia State and Savannah State agreed to play, as did Bethune-Cookman, whose coach Loritz Clark committed eight days prior and repeatedly confirmed his team was coming, McPherson said.
He elected not to invite additional teams, stating cost concerns over hotel rooms and meals and not wanting to take advantage of Forest Hills Golf Club, which donated tee times.
On Friday, every team – except Bethune-Cookman – arrived for a practice round. McPherson left repeated messages with Clark throughout the day. In the afternoon, McPherson received word from Clark that his team would be there. At 6:30 p.m., the story changed – the Wildcats wouldn’t be coming.
McPherson said he called 13 other coaches that night, but it was too late for the schools to get approval from their athletic departments for travel.
“If he had let me known earlier, I could have had another team in place,” McPherson said. “I don’t know what’s the reasoning for him not letting me know till 6:30 Friday.”
Golfweek has Augusta State ranked 49th in the country, with the 28th toughest schedule. Unless an appeal is made and granted, the Jaguars will fail to become one of 81 teams to make regional play.
McPherson said he believes his team is worthy of the postseason and that with Bethune-Cookman’s late withdrawal, the Wildcats should
be given a forfeit and Augusta State an additional win.
“We didn’t have the opportunity, we didn’t have the time to get another team here,” McPherson said. “I think it’s a reasonable circumstance that could be appealed.”