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St. Thomas High School championship coach Billy Tuten has accepted the head men's and women's golf position at the University of St. Thomas while he continues to coach the STH program through the 2016 season.
"I really appreciate Mike and St. Thomas for being flexible so that we can all make this work," UST athletic director Todd Smith said. "I certainly understand what he's meant to the school. Mike and I are determined that none of our programs are compromised during the transition. When Billy and I had our very first conversation he let me know he believed they could win the state championship this season and was determined to see it through to the end."
Tuten returns a talented and experienced group to St. Thomas High School, which is currently the top-ranked team in Texas among TAPPS Division I schools, with Henry Fisher '16 and Curtis Brady '16 positioned as the no. 1 and 2 ranked individual players in the state.
"Billy certainly elevated our success and profile during the last decade and this is a time to celebrate a positive move in his career," STH athletic director Mike Netzel said. "And he stays in the Basilian family. What a wonderful opportunity. Our student-athletes really responded to his positive approach. He had such an influence in and outside the program, always represented St. Thomas with the utmost class. And he'll do the same at UST after stamping a final chapter to his story here.
Tuten's parade of title contending teams at STH included the 2012 TAPPS state champions, the Eagles first hardware since a run of three crowns between 2000-05, followed up by a runner-up state finish in 2014 and a third-place result in 2015.
Tuten coaches with the same white-hot competitive intensity that fueled his playing career. He returns to the collegiate scene roughly 30 years after he was one of the country's elite amateurs, enjoying a standout stay at the University of Houston where he played for college golf's most influential coach, Dave Williams.
Starting with the 1979 U.S. Junior Amateur, Tuten advanced to four USGA championship finals in five years and compiled a remarkable match-play record of 30-6. He won consecutive U.S. Amateur Public Links championships in 1982-83, the Western Amateur in `83 and played for the United States in the Walker Cup win that same year. Tuten then spent 20 years on professional tours before becoming one of Houston's most acclaimed swing instructors.
"I was really looking for someone who wasn't just a manager of logistics, an organizer," Smith said. "Billy knows the game, teaches the games, from swing to strategy to psychology. He knows talent, can motivate and develop players over the duration of their careers which is critical for our program. He's the total package for us."
Tuten succeeds Philip Tate, a former standout performer at Texas Tech who spent the last two years at UST before accepting the head men's position at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in August.
Tuten takes over a men's program that won the 2014 Red River Athletic Conference championship and produced at top-20 finish at the NAIA Men's National Championship.
The Celts produced multiple top-five finishes in 2015, including a second place result at the UTB Invitational and a fifth place finish at the NAIA Contender Tournament.
"Coach Tuten's experience as a player and teaching professional will prove to be a great asset for our golf program. Since I've started working with him in my Junior year of high school, my game has come a long way," said Sr. Juan Gutierrez of his former STH coach. Eager for the success of the golf programs to continue to build under Tuten, former STH Alumni and now UST Sr. Richard Le expressed his excitement of the new hire. "Since my freshman year in high school, Coach Tuten has been such a major influence in my life. He is one of the most well-respected golfers in the golfing community. His experience and knowledge of the game is unparalleled. I look forward to reuniting with Coach Tuten and finishing out the year strong."
"To see Billy again team with Juan and Richard as they close out their collegiate careers is such a bonus," Netzel said. "And hopefully they can all deliver for UST what they delivered for us and that's a championship in their final season."
Coach Tuten is poised to step into his new role at the helm of the UST golf programs "I would like to thank the University of St. Thomas for giving me the opportunity to be the head coach of the men's and women's golf teams. I look forward to leading the golf program to many successes on and off the course."