June 27, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State University Athletics Director Mark Hollis announced today that men's golf head coach Sam Puryear has resigned from his position to care for an ailing family member; however, the MSU Athletics Department will continue its relationship with Mr. Puryear, who agreed to continue the Department's outreach to youth golf programs in Detroit. Puryear, the 2008 Big Ten Coach of the Year, led the Spartan program for four years.
"I appreciate the contributions that Sam has given to Michigan State over the past four years," said Hollis. "Sam is a great ambassador to the game of golf, going back to his time working with underprivileged youth at East Lake Junior Golf Academy in Atlanta. I wish him the best in his future endeavors and hope for improved health within his family. We will begin an immediate search for a new head coach."
Puryear's tenure at MSU was highlighted by winning the 2008 Big Ten Championship in his first season at the helm. As a team, the Spartans won six tournament titles, placed in the top-5 of 23 events, and advanced to the 2008 and 2009 NCAA Regionals. Individually, Puryear mentored the 13th All-American in MSU history, four PING All-Region selections, five All-Big Ten honorees, three Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars and 20 Academic All-Big Ten selections. In addition, Jack Newman was the first Spartan to compete in the Masters, qualifying for the 2009 tournament by winning the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, and also played as an individual at the 2010 NCAA Regional.
"This has been a very difficult decision for my immediate family because Michigan State is a special place, but we know that life is short and the time that we have to spend with our loved ones is precious," said Puryear. "I'm tremendously thankful to MSU for the wonderful opportunity, but I feel compelled to be closer to the people in my life who need me the most as a son, a husband and a father, and that's where my focus lies."
Prior to coming to East Lansing, Puryear spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Stanford University, helping the Cardinal capture the 2007 NCAA Championship. He recruited and developed several All-Americans while with the Cardinal, including a school-record five during the national championship campaign. While at Stanford, he conceptualized and developed the program's first-ever team-based leadership component. It delivered a strategy for student-athletes to recognize and understand individual and team dynamics, and how each player is accountable for the team achieving its overall goal.
Before joining Stanford, Puryear was executive director of East Lake Junior Golf Academy - now the First Tee of East Lake - in Atlanta, where he administered a junior golf initiative impacting nearly 1,000 youth with opportunities for life skills enrichment and development, on-and-off the course. The program garnered national recognition as a model junior golf program, helping youth develop skills, confidence and character to have positive, thriving futures. The first students of the East Lake Junior Golf Academy are now graduating from college.
Puryear received his bachelor's degree in speech and theater from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn., in 1992. A four-year member of the golf team, he served as team captain in 1991.