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Matt Thurmond Earns Frank Kush Award for 2021-22

Jun 21, 2022

Each current Sun Devil head coach is asked in mid-June to pick one ... just one ... current Sun Devil Coach of the Year in honor of Frank Kush.

The award -- presented around the anniversary of Coach Kush's passing (June 22, 2017) -- is one way for each coach to recognize a peer that impressed them the most. The rules and guidelines are... well, none.

They can vote for someone who earned Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors, a coach who made an impression in their first year, or simply the nicest coach in the building. Once tallied, one coach earns what one would consider the ultimate show of respect, an award from their peers in the 26-sport department.

This year's winner is a head coach of a sport that took his team to the brink of a NCAA title, but also decided he wanted to be an alumni of the university.

Men's golf head coach Matt Thurmond will enter his seventh season in 2022-23 as the current Frank Kush Award winner. He will also enter the year as an ASU graduate after earning his master's degree, and has led ASU to its best back-to-back NCAA finishes in over 30 years. Want more? His sixth assistant coach in his career earned a Division I head coach job. Three of the other 11 coaches in the Pac-12 were assistants under Thurmond.

"What an honor it is, on multiple levels, to win this award," notes Thurmond, who was hired on July 25, 2016. "First, to be selected by my fellow Sun Devil coaches who fully understand all it takes to have successful season. I thank them for selecting me from among a group of deserving coaches. Second, to have my name listed next to Frank Kush in anything is a huge honor. When I think of Coach Kush I think of the sustained excellence on the field, but I mostly think of the lasting impact he had on this university, community and the players he coached. Sustained excellence and a lasting impact is greatness, and it is the hope of any coach at ASU to accomplish even a little of what Coach Kush accomplished in those areas."

2021-22: Matt Thurmond, men's golf
2020-21: Todd Clapper, water polo
2018-19: Greg Powers, hockey
2017-18: Trisha Ford, softball

--Pandemic pushed ASU coach to get master's degree (by Scott Bordow, ASU News/May 2, 2022)
--Video: Sun Devil Golf creating "inspired" environment  to help team game (GOLF Channel with Matt Thurmond/May 4, 2022)
--ASU Wins – and Studies – Together as Matt Thurmond Goes Back to School (by Brentley Romine, Golf Channel/Oct. 21, 2021)

The Sun Devils took one step closer to its goal of its third NCAA Championship with its 2022 second-place finish, as it beat No. 1 ranked Oklahoma and defending NCAA Champion Pepperdine in match play before losing to Texas, 3 & 2, on June 1. It was the best finish for ASU since the 1996 team won the national title, fresh off a tie for third last year. ASU has had back-to-back finishes of third or better for the first time since Phil Mickelson led ASU to three straight top-three finishes. The program had four All-Americans and won three titles during the year, including the NCAA Stockton Regional, its first regional title since 2016.

2022: 2nd (2-1 in match play)
2021: T-3rd (1-1 in match play)
1996: 1st
1992: 2nd
1991: 3rd
1990: 1st
1982: 3rd

Getting to Grayhawk isn't easy, as eight teams ranked in the Golfstat top 30 after regional action had their season's end. Not advancing to the NCAA Championship in 2021-22 were Pac-12 champion Washington (9), Illinois (19), Notre Dame (20), LSU (21), Tennessee (22), Clemson (24), South Carolina (28) and Purdue (29).

With Sun Devil associate head coach Armen Kirikossian earning the UCLA head coaching job, head coach Matt Thurmond can be proud he has placed six former assisstants in Division I head coaching jobs, including three currently in the Pac-12. Oregon State under John Reehoorn earned a regional bid for just the second time in the past seven chances in 2021 and its sixth-place Pac-12 2021 finish matched its best in previous eight while Garrett Clegg at Utah led his program to a regional for the first time since 1992 and to the NCAA Championship in 2022 for the first time since the 1980s. Outside the Pac-12 Michael Wilson at Long Beach State won its first conference title since 2004 and made its first regional appearance since 2012 and just its fourth overall in 2021. Dan Potter at Boise State took the Broncos to regionals for the first time since 1994 and just second time overall in 2021. Van Williams, a fifth former assistant -- this one from Arizona State -- is also leading the program at Wofford.