Huntsville -- Ronnie Choate, who served Sam Houston State in many roles from 1960 to 1998, has been named as interim head golf coach for the Bearkats, Director of Athletics Bobby Williams has announced.
Choate started the men's golf program at Sam Houston in 1962, directing the Bearkats to four NAIA national championships and nine conference titles.
He will oversee both the men's and women's programs this spring while the athletic department carries on a search for a new head coach. Mike Dirks resigned last month to take a position as associate head men's golf coach at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
"The University deeply appreciates Ronnie Choate stepping in to help keep our golf program on course this spring," Williams said. "Ronnie will provide quality leadership for us in a program he started and led to both regional and national success. Meanwhile, our department will have the opportunity to find the right person to step into the job permanently."
Choate has been involved with Sam Houston athletics most of his life. He ranks as the "winningest" quarterback in Bearkat football history, playing on teams that produced a 25-13-1 record from 1956 to 1959. He served as assistant football coach, worked as a fundraiser, and completed his career as director of athletics from 1992 to 1998.
As golf coach, he directed the Bearkats to consecutive NAIA national
championships from 1978 to 1981. He was honored as national coach of the year each of those seasons. In his final season as golf coach in 1994, Coach and his son, Dean, achieved a rare father/son sweep of the Southland Conference's golf awards as conference "Coach-of-the-Year" and "Golfer-of-the-Year," respectively. Ronnie and Dean Choate also are the only father-son combination who have been inducted into the SH Hall of Honor.
"I'm glad to be able to help out the program at a time when it is in need.
It's going to be exciting working with the talented student-athletes
involved in the golf program," Choate said. "To lose your head coach right as the season is starting is tough. As someone deeply interested in the success of this program, I'm happy and excited to help out."
Choate earned league coach-of-the-year honors 13 times in three conferences. He coached 21 All-Americans. His teams produced conference individual medalist champions 11 times and NAIA national individual champions twice.
Tommy Chain will serve as an assistant coach with responsibilities primary with the women's golf team. Chain worked with the women last year as they won the Southland Conference championship.
"I look forward to working with Tommy Chain," Choate said. "He played
against us as a college player and has had an outstanding career as a golf teacher. With 32 years experience in coaching college golf, I want to be someone our players can lean on to help them achieve their best. Winning a conference title in both men's and women's golf this year is our goal and we're ready to get started."