On Tuesday, Maura Ballard (RC '88) stepped down as the women's golf coach. After 22 years as coach, much of that also coaching the men, she is leaving the post. Big deal? I think so.
Golf is not a revenue sport. It isn't a glamorous sport in the northeast...or the midwest. There are no big TV contracts associated with it (although I have actually watched women's golf on BTN!) There are eight players on the women's golf team. Eight. Total. That isn't as many players as are on the field at one time for virtually any other sport. We aren't in the SEC or PAC 12 where golf is a "natural". So why is it important?
Well, for one thing, Ballard did her job as a coach both on and off the field; that means a lot. For the second year in a row, the women scored a perfect APR. She's had All-American scholars and the team has been reasonably successful. So why is a very good replacement hire important?
Because we're going into the Big Ten. Because all sports are important in the Big Ten. Because who Julie Hermann hires will establish the kind of person she wants coaching at Rutgers and the kind of program we will have. It will say whether she believes every sport really does matter or whether she looks at golf as a "minor" sport and not worth putting in the effort.
Hiring someone who will make a difference is important. Hiring someone who can win - just like any other sport - is important. It's not "just golf". Julie's first hire will say something about where Rutgers is heading and the direction she wants us to go.