Crawford resigns after five seasons with Hawkeye golf team

BY BEN SCHUFF | JUNE 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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Kelly Crawford is no longer the coach of the Iowa women’s golf team.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta announced the former head coach’s resignation through a release on Wednesday.

When reached by The Daily Iowan Wednesday, Crawford declined to comment on her reason for leaving the university but said in the release that she enjoyed her five years as head coach.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I submit my resignation,” she said in the statement. “My time here meant the world to me. I loved being a Hawkeye, and my players will always have a special place in my heart. My staff and I have made tremendous strides with the program, and I wish my girls all the best.”

Former golfer Laura Cilek, who graduated in the spring, said Crawford called her on Wednesday to inform her of the resignation. She said she was surprised to hear the news.

“When she called me, I was kind of shocked,” Cilek said. “It’s too bad, because obviously she’s an awesome coach, and I had a great four years playing for her.

“She’ll definitely be greatly missed by the program, faculty, and staff, I’m sure.”

Cilek declined further comment about the nature of the phone call.

One of the team’s current players, senior-to-be Chelsea Harris, appeared to be at a loss for words when asked about the announcement.

“I don’t know — I don’t really have any [reaction], honestly,” she said. “I don’t know yet. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Harris said she was made aware of the resignation on Tuesday night, but she declined to comment on whether she had talked to Crawford since the former head coach announced her resignation or if Crawford had spoken to current members of the team.

“It’s all pretty private right now, I think,” she said. “It just happened, [and] we just found out about it. I don’t know what to think.”

In the release, Barta said he was grateful for Crawford’s work with the team.

“We appreciate the hard work Kelly has put in over the past five years,” he said. “We wish her well in her future endeavors.”

He declined further comment.

The Hawkeyes had some success under Crawford, particularly in the first half of her stint as head coach. Iowa won the Hawkeye Invitational in her first year, won the Baja Invitational in her second, and placed in the top-10 at seven of the 10 events played in 2008-09. The team’s fifth-place finish at the Big Ten championships that year was the highest of Crawford’s tenure.

Iowa got off to a good start in the 2010-11 season, winning the Hawkeye Invitational and placing third in the Badger Invitational. The Iowa women set 18-, 36-, and 54-hole team scoring records at the latter event.

The Hawkeyes finished in the top half of just one more event all year, though, and finished in 11th place at the Big Ten championships in April with a team score of 109 over (1,261).

The release said that the search for the next head coach would begin immediately.

Assistant coach John Owens declined to comment on Crawford’s resignation or about any prospect of a promotion to the head-coach position.

“We want to compete in the Big Ten,” Harris said. “[We want] someone that will help us get there.”

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