Monday, July 18, 2011

Breaking News - ACU Basketball

ABILENE – In a stunning turn of events, Grant McCasland informed ACU director of athletics Jared Mosley on Sunday evening that he was resigning as the men's head basketball coach to become an assistant coach at Baylor University.

McCasland is leaving ACU after serving less than four months as the Wildcats' head coach and never coaching a game for the Purple and White. McCasland – who coached at Midwestern State the two previous seasons and 82 games in those two years – was introduced as the Wildcats' head coach on March 30.

"This was a totally unexpected opportunity for me and my family," McCasland said. "The only job I would have left ACU for was an opportunity to return 'home' to Waco where I played and have always dreamed of coaching. I'm leaving Abilene with a lot of mixed emotions because I truly believe ACU is a special place and that we were going to get that program turned around. I'm confident that the Wildcats have a bright future and I look forward to watching their progress."

Mosley said he couldn't blame McCasland for accepting the job at Baylor, even though it came just six weeks away from the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.

"The past 72 hours have been extremely hectic to say the least," Mosley said. "It is definitely bittersweet in that I hate to lose a quality head coach in Grant before we ever really got a chance to get things going, but the opportunity in front of Grant right now doesn't come along very often.

"I'm excited for him personally to be able to step in as an assistant coach at one of the top NCAA Division I programs in the country," he said. "There aren't many NCAA Division II coaches presented with those types of opportunities, which is a testament to the character and ability that Grant brings to the coaching profession. I certainly wish he and Cecilia and their family the best as they take on the next challenge."

ABILENE – Joe Golding imagined his next opportunity to become the head men's basketball coach at ACU wouldn't come again for a few years after Grant McCasland was hired in late March.

Turns out, the former Wildcat basketball letterman had to wait only four months for his opportunity.

Sunday night after McCasland's stunning decision to resign to join the Baylor coaching staff, ACU director of athletics Jared Mosley reached out to his former teammate and current assistant coach at Arkansas-Little Rock to take the reigns of the program. It took Golding only about 90 minutes to agree to return to ACU to try and revive a floundering men's program.

Golding will begin his duties immediately and said he would talk to assistant coach Rob McIlhaney and graduate assistant coach Brian Burton – both of whom were hired by McCasland earlier in the spring – about staying at ACU.

Golding and his wife, Amanda, were enjoying dinner together Sunday evening when Mosley called Golding to offer him the ACU job.

"This whole thing has been nuts," Golding said. "When Jared called I asked him to give me a little bit of time to talk to my wife and (UALR head coach) Steve Shields before I made my final decision. At the end of the day, I played and coached at ACU and I love the school and the people. My wife and kids loved it as well, so, obviously, we're very excited about returning to Abilene."

Golding completed his third season on Shields' staff in 2010-11, helping the Trojans to the Sun Belt Conference title and an appearance in the NCAA Division I national tournament. In addition to his normal coaching duties – which included working with the UALR guards – Golding was the Trojan's recruiting coordinator.

"I can't say enough about Coach Shields, (assistant coach) Joe Kleine and all of the other people I worked with at Little Rock," Golding said. "I've learned so much from Coach Shields, and it's prepared me to take advantage of this opportunity."

It's that experience at the Division I level that led Mosley to call Golding shortly after McCasland informed him of his resignation.

"I'm extremely excited to bring Joe in as the head coach at ACU," Mosley said. "Joe's connection to ACU and to the program will be critical in the coming days as we wrap up our recruiting class and prepare for the upcoming season. Joe was a key part of some of ACU's most successful seasons as both a player and as a coach. The timing is never ideal, but I'm excited about having Joe and Amanda back at ACU and part of the ACU and Abilene communities."

Golding's first task is to talk to his two assistant coaches – both of whom he's known for several years – and then begin making the rounds of the players they've been recruiting to make sure they're still on board with ACU.

"There's usually not perfect timing in the coaching profession," Golding said. "When an opportunity arises, you just have to take it. There's not a road map for this sort of thing, but what I've learned over the last three years has helped me tremendously. I've just got to jump in there and get to work."

Golding joined the UALR coaching staff on July 1, 2008, bringing with him nine years of coaching experience at the junior college and high school levels. Prior to joining the Trojans, Golding spent three seasons (2005-08) as the top assistant to head coach Jason Copeland at Abilene Christian, where his primary duties included recruiting, scouting and on-floor coaching. A former point guard at ACU from 1994-98, he was also responsible for coaching the Wildcat guards.

In 2007-08, Golding helped guide the Wildcats to a 20-9 record, marking the program’s first 20-win season since the 1998-99 campaign. The 2007-08 ACU squad qualified for the Lone Star Conference Tournament for the first time since 1998, Golding’s senior season. In addition, ACU had three guards earn all-LSC South Division honors in Corwin Ragland, Dejan Sencanski and Brandon Callahan, marking the first time since the 1985-86 season that ACU had more than one player on the all-conference team. Ragland was also named NABC Second Team All-South Central Region after averaging 17.1 points per game.

Golding was a four-year letterwinner at ACU from 1994-98, playing in all 108 games, and was given the Teague Point Guard Award as a senior. He shot 46 percent from the floor over his four-year career, and averaged 4.3 points and 4.2 assists per game.

Upon graduating from ACU with a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science in May of 1999, Golding got his first coaching job as a varsity assistant at South Garland High School, where he helped the team to back-to-back Class 5A playoff appearances.

He spent the 2001-02 season as an assistant coach at Seminole Junior College before taking the head coaching job at Sachse High School. In the program’s first years at the 5A level, Golding led the team to a 15-14 record in 2002-03 and an 18-10 mark in 2003-04. Prior to returning to Abilene Christian in 2005, Golding spent the 2004-05 season as an assistant coach at Collin County Community College.Golding and his wife, Amanda, have been married for six years and have two sons, Cason and Chase.

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