June 21, 2000
NORMAN, Okla. - Jim Ragan, who has served as the men's head golf coach at Vanderbilt University for the past three years, has been named the 12th men's head golf coach at the University of Oklahoma, announced OU Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione today. Ragan replaces longtime head coach Gregg Grost, who resigned after 15 seasons as OU's mentor in order to spend more time with his family.
Noted for his expertise as a golf teacher, Ragan also demonstrated his abilities in the areas of recruiting and fundraising during his stint at Vanderbilt. Additionally, his Commodore teams exhibited outstanding achievements in the classroom.
"Jim is a high-energy coach who commands a great deal of respect," said Castiglione. "His experiences in teaching, recruiting and in developing college golf programs are impressive, for sure. He was raised in this part of the country and has worked at major institutions in major athletic conferences. Jim will take the remarkable resources already in place here at the University of Oklahoma and continue to build upon a great tradition of success. We are excited about the future of the program under Jim's care."
Said Ragan, "Oklahoma is a program that has a rich tradition and I know how important the game of golf is there. Having the chance to go to a school that is serious about contending on a national level is very appealing to me.
"It's going to be great to get back into the competitive environment of the Big 12," added Ragan, a Brownwood, Texas, native who served as an assistant coach at the University of Texas for three seasons prior to being named head coach at Vanderbilt. "There are a lot of good golf schools in that area and to be able to compete against them on a regular basis is something I've missed. The opportunity to work at the University of Oklahoma is an outstanding one because there's such a commitment across the board in the athletic department. It's obvious to me that Oklahoma is serious about competing and winning."
Ragan also commented on the importance of facilities such as the recently renovated Jimmie Austin OU Golf Course and the state-of-the-art, indooor-outdoor Charlie Coe Center.
"Having your own golf course on campus and the Charlie Coe Center right next to it makes an incredible difference in the ability of student-athletes to improve. I've been involved with golf from a teaching standpoint for more than 10 years and I've not seen a better facility of its kind than the Coe Center. It's a tremendous asset and will most definitely aid us in our attempt to achieve the goals we set each year."
Ragan said moving his family, which includes his wife, Lisa, and 2-year-old daughter, Kate, to Norman is exciting.
"We're very excited to move to Oklahoma and a college town like Norman that has a great atmosphere. Having my family associated with a first-class university such as OU is very important to me and it's something that we're very excited about. Having the chance to raise a family in a healthy environment that stresses success both academically and athletically is definitely an opportunity we are looking forward to."
A 1990 Mississippi State University graduate who earned a degree in marketing, Ragan worked for four years at Golf Digest Schools beginning in 1990. He became the youngest instructor in the history of Golf Digest Schools and served as an assistant professional and teaching professional at Sea Island Learning Center in Sea Island, Ga.
In 1994, Ragan accepted the assistant coach position at Texas and worked under head coach Jim Clayton for three years.
"Oklahoma made a good decision and is fortunate to have him," said Clayton, who retired from Texas in 1997. "He really enjoys coaching and he has a great golf background. He has a good rapport with the players. I have a lot of confidence in him. I gave him a lot of responsibility at Texas and he handled it well. He's just a real first-class person who will represent the University of Oklahoma extremely well."
During his three years at Vanderbilt, Ragan, a member of the PGA of America and Golf Coaches Association of America, guided the Commodores to their first team tournament title in nine years and also watched one of his players earn medalist honors in a tournament for the first time in school history. This past year, individuals placed in the top 10 a school-record 10 times.
Ragan also successfully recruited American Junior Golf Association All-Americans in 1997, 1998 and 1999, as well as a pair of AJGA honorable-mention All-Americans in 1998. He has a proven track record of recruiting quality players from coast to coast.
The men's golf squad posted the second highest GPA of any Vanderbilt athletic team during the 1999-2000 academic year and seven Commodore golfers were named to the 2000 Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. The program's first two academic All-Americans were honored under Ragan's tenure, in 1998 and 1999.
The Oklahoma men's golf team is coming off another successful year in which it qualified for the NCAA Championships in Opelika, Ala. The Sooners have participated in NCAA postseason competition in 18 of the last 20 seasons. The 1989 OU team won the national title under Grost.