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Neher Steps Down As Interim Golf Coach

Apr 21, 2006

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BOULDER - Brad Neher, who has been serving as interim golf coach at the University of Colorado since the passing of long-time head coach Mark Simpson last December, stepped down from the position Friday due to personal reasons and what he termed, "for the good of program."

 

Neher, 34, a CU graduate and golf letterman, was Simpson's assistant for six years before being promoted to interim coach this past January, a month following Simpson's cancer-related death at the age of 55.  Simpson had coached the team since 1977.

 

Neher, who concluded his brief tenure as coach at CU's Fowler Cup Alumni Matches Friday, cited a number of reasons, some of which were fueled by wild speculation around the program since he and seven players were suspended for one tournament earlier this month after violating team and athletic department policies.

 

"I think this is in the best interests of the program, the university, myself, my family and my friends," Neher said.  "This really hurts, because of my long association with the university both as a student, an athlete, a coach and a fan.  I grew up in that stadium (Folsom Field). 

 

"But I want what's best for the program, and that is for it to move forward without anything lingering over the team.  Ultimately, I am fully responsible for the actions of this team, and therefore, this is the right decision as they can move forward to finish the year and attempt to fulfill their potential with as few distractions as possible."

 

"I took the assistant's job because Coach Simpson sought me out, and we felt it was a great fit to my abilities as a teacher and a professional golfer.  All I've ever wanted to do was help student-athletes achieve their goals academically and athletically.  This also really hurts because this was a dream job for me, but sometimes, dreams don't always come true."

 

"Brad took over under some very difficult circumstances, one that many people may not grasp," athletic director Mike Bohn said.  "Watching a close friend and mentor die is not easy for anyone.  Things have been tough for him, and we support his decision as this is what is best for both him and the program overall.  He can and will accomplish many things in golf, and we wish him well."     

 

"This is a great group of young men that has tremendous talent," Neher said of the 10 players on CU's 2005-06 team.  "No question, they could be in contention the rest of the season in every tournament that remains and continue to strive to reach the goals that we set, starting with the Big 12 Championships next week. 

 

"What really should not be lost in this is that we had a specific goal this spring," Neher added.  "We made bag tags and head covers to remember Mark, and I just hope they continue to use those as constant reminders that we dedicated the season to Mark and his memory and legacy at the University of Colorado.   We wanted our play to honor him, and that is a goal this team can still attain.

 

"As for myself, I want thank all those friends, alumni and fellow coaches who have supported me, as I was astounded with how many people contacted me after this had happened.  Sometimes, you get so busy, you forget about the little things in life, and just having people call or e-mail with their support meant the world to me."

 

"This year has been one I wouldn't wish on anyone," he concluded.  "With Coach Simpson passing away, and with the death of one of my best friends just last month, along with the trials and tribulations of the entire situation, it's really been difficult.  But the great thing is that it is times like these that show your true character and the people closest to you step up and are there for you.  I definitely will miss everything about my job, but I will always be a Buffalo."

 

An administrative "team" will see the program through the remainder of the spring season, as Bohn hopes to have a new head coach of the program in place by July 1.  Associate athletic director David Plati and assistant athletic directors Julie Manning and Charles Johnson will handle the administrative aspects of the program, coordinate team travel and be in attendance at the remaining tournaments.  Plati has handled the golf team's media relations since 1979 and knows the team well; Manning, in charge of CU's compliance department, is the former head women's golf coach at Iowa State; and Johnson, the former Buff quarterback and most valuable player in the 1991 Orange Bowl win over Notre Dame that enabled CU to win the national championship, will add a competitive spirit to the mix the remainder of the year.

 

Both Plati and Johnson have accompanied senior Edward McGlasson to tournaments in the past, Plati last spring at the NCAA Central Regional while Simpson was ill and Johnson earlier this month during the suspension of the other team members. 

 

"All three are very well versed in what needs to be done to help the team focus on playing golf and meeting their established goals," Bohn said.  "Julie in particular with her experience as a college head coach will be invaluable in this transition, and Dave's and Charles' backgrounds, competitive spirit and knowledge of the program should ease any concerns the student-athletes might have."