Letter from the President: Thank You Coach Brogden

Friday, May 06, 2005

Dear TU Family and Friends,

The sports enthusiasts among you already will have heard about Coach Bill Brogden’s decision on Wednesday to withdraw our men’s golf team from the WAC Championship play-off against SMU. His decision allowed SMU to claim the 2005 WAC Championship, and an automatic invitation to the NCAA regional tournament, but I have never been more proud of a coach or a team. For those who have not heard this dramatic story, I believe the following facts will strengthen your pride in TU Athletics: On Wednesday, May 4, 2005 in Choudrant, Louisiana, TU’s men’s golf team made its final appearance in the WAC Golf Championship. At stake was the WAC Championship in men’s golf, and an automatic invitation to the NCAA Regional Championship.

  • After 54 holes of play, the Golden Hurricane was tied with the Mustangs from SMU.
  • In the case of a tie at the end of regular tournament play, WAC rules call for a sudden-death play-off to determine the championship winner.
  • Despite the rule, SMU Coach Jay Loar and TU Head Coach Bill Brogden agreed to share the championship title, but WAC officials insisted on a play-off.
  • Coach Brogden was concerned because TU’s flight home departed at 4:30 p.m. from the Monroe Regional Airport, a 30-minute drive from the tournament course in Choudrant. He was also concerned that if they missed this flight, his players would miss their final exams scheduled for Thursday morning.
  • The play-off started shortly after 3pm, and would likely require an hour for five players on each team to complete the 456-yard, par 4 playoff hole.
  • Twosomes from each team hit their tee shots and were ready to play their second shots with threesomes from each team waiting in the tee boxes.
  • At the same time, Coach Brogden and WAC officials were making calls to determine whether the Hurricane flight plans could be changed to allow the team to complete the play-off and still return to Tulsa in time for the players to take their final exams.
  • When Coach Brogden learned that he could not get his team home before Friday unless they took their previously scheduled flight, he forfeited the play-off hole.
  • When asked by journalists about his decision to forfeit the championship rather than miss the flight back to Tulsa, Coach Brogden explained, “We had to get home. These are student athletes. That is what they’re here for…. It was unfortunate the way it ended, (but) I was really pleased with the guys.”

I, too, am “really pleased with the guys”, and enormously proud of a coach who faced a very difficult decision and did not hesitate to act in the best interest of his student-athletes.

True champions are defined by their “clutch play,” and in this case, Coach Brogden imparted to his team members one of the most valuable of life’s lessons: Always let your priorities be your guide. In the end, that example shines brighter than any trophy.

Dr. Steadman Upham
President, The University of Tulsa