The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Jasinski steps down as Irish coach

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Notre Dame head men’s golf coach John Jasinski announced his resignation due to personal reasons Monday. Jasinski had been on administrative leave since mid-November.

“We understand and respect John’s decision,” athletic director Kevin White said in a release Monday. “We appreciate his contributions to our golf program and we wish him the very best.”

The weeks since Jasinski first went on administrative leave had been mentally taxing on members of the team and those close to the coach.

“[Since] he was on leave, we were all waiting,” junior Eric Deutsch said. “It was in the back of our heads [that Jasinski might leave], but we were hoping against hope that he’d come back.”

For some members of the team, the announcement came as a surprise.

“Initially, my reaction was kind of disbelief. I was unaware until we received a formal announcement,” sophomore Cole Isban said.

Jasinski had been the head coach of the Irish for more than three years, and he was the first golf coach for the Irish to occupy that position full-time. During his tenure, he helped begin the turnaround of the program, and his 2004 team won the Big East Championship and went to its first NCAA regional berth since 1966, where the Irish finished 12th out of 27 teams.

“He was crucial to the turnaround of our program,” Isban said.

Before coming to the Irish, Jasinski was the head coach at the University of Toledo for nine seasons. While with the Rockets, Jasinski turned that program around, just as he did when with the Irish. After 1995, Toledo never finished worse than second place in the Mid-American Conference, and competed in the NCAA Tournament in his final four years there.

“He built the program, and it was middle of the pack before him,” Toledo assistant athletic director of media relations Paul Helgren said.

Helgren said that while at Toledo, Jasinski raised the profile of the golf program, cultivating boosters. By the end of his time there, golf was the most funded team behind football and basketball, according to Helgren.

His Notre Dame team said nothing but good things about their former coach.

“I feel fortunate to have been coached by him,” junior Scott Gustafson said.

The Irish also had respect for Jasinski as a person.

“You can’t talk about him without mentioning what he did off the course,” said Isban. “He changed not only my approach to golf, but my approach to life.”

Added Deutsch, “He made me a better person.”

In Jasinski’s absence, assistant coach Chris Whitten will serve as interim coach, and no timetable has been set for finding a new coach.

“At some point we’ll advertise, but right now I don’t know when,” associate athletic director John Heisler said.

“I think we have to pick up and move on,” Isban said. “Initially, we want to pity ourselves and feel sorry for ourselves, but we have to move forward towards the next step.”

From the player-coach standpoint, goodbyes will be difficult on both ends.

“In just over three years of service, Notre Dame has had a tremendously favorable impact on my professional career and an even further positive influence on my wife and children,” Jasinski said in the statement. “We will always keep Notre Dame dear to our hearts.”

In the end, the announcement may prove toughest on his players, especially the upperclassmen who played for him for three or four years.

“He was a friend of mine,” said Gustafson. “He brought me here, and I was planning on spending four years with him. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.”