July 26, 2014
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University announced the hiring of Justin Fetcho as the new head men's golf coach on Saturday. He is the 10th head coach in the program's history. Fetcho comes to SIU after serving as the assistant at the University of Illinois, where he helped guide Illinois to back-to-back top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships.
"Justin Fetcho stood out for his enthusiasm and experience," Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said. "He has the ability to reenergize Saluki men's golf and the experience of having worked at three major institutions to take our program to the top of the Missouri Valley Conference."
Fetcho has accumulated a vast amount of experience in Division I golf. He has served as an interim head coach at Oregon, began his career as an assistant at his alma mater, South Florida, and been a part of back-to-back match play appearances while at Illinois. As a coach, he has been on the staff of a Big Ten, NCAA Regional and NCAA runner-up team at Illinois and also helped land some of the best recruits in school history at South Florida, including the 2012 and 2013 Big East Freshmen of the Year. As a player, he has been an NJCAA All-American, a top Illinois amateur and holds three course records.
Fetcho, an Eldorado, Ill., native, comes to Carbondale from Champaign-Urbana, Ill., having spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at one of the premier golf programs in the nation. In his first season at Illinois, Fetcho helped the Illini win a fifth-consecutive Big Ten title, their first-ever NCAA Regional title and upset No. 1 California on their way to an NCAA runner-up finish. In his second season, he helped Illinois get to a second-straight match play appearance and top-five finish at the NCAA Championships.
"I am thrilled and excited to have the opportunity to come back home to a place I know so well," Fetcho said. "I want to thank Mr. Moccia and the entire selection committee for believing in me as the next head coach, and I look forward to moving this program towards where I believe it can go, which is winning MVC titles and competing at the national level."
"Leroy Newton deserves a lot of credit and appreciation for his leadership over the program these last 18 years," Moccia said. "He elevated Saluki men's golf to a place where it was an attractive job for a great number of candidates who can see a championship vision for the program."
Prior to coaching at Illinois, Fetcho was an assistant coach and interim head coach for the Oregon women's golf team. He helped the 2012 squad to the lowest scoring average in school history (299.3), and he coached All-American Cassy Isagawa to the lowest scoring average (72.76) and best national ranking (No. 10) in school history.
Fetcho began his coaching career at South Florida during the 2009-10 season. In just two season there, he helped sign one of the best recruiting classes in school history, helped coach the team to its best Big East finish since 2005 and helped raise the team's GPA to the highest of any men's sport at USF in the spring of 2011. Two of Fetcho's recruits went on to earn Big East Freshman of the Year honors in 2012 and 2013.
Fetcho grew up in Eldorado, Ill., and played his high school golf at Eldorado High before starting his college career at John A. Logan Community College. There, he was an All-American in 2005 after finishing third at the national championships. He continued his collegiate career at South Florida, where he was a two-time All-American Scholar. He still holds the second-lowest 54-hole score in USF history (205, Sam Hall Invitational).
"I appreciate all the hard work from our screening committee," Moccia said. "We were able to put together a quality group for this search that included retired faculty-athletic representative Harold Bardo, businessman Greg Cook of Cook Portable Warehouses, head women's golf coach Alexis Mihelich, head track and field coach Connie Price-Smith, and former SIU golfer and PGA head professional at Bellerive Country Club Mike Tucker. Tucker was also a past Gateway PGA section president and former District 7 director on the PGA Board of Directors. Their hard work and dedication to this process led to this smooth and satisfying conclusion."
Fetcho also has a strong playing career, having finished second at the 2008 Illinois Open and 13th at the 2013 Illinois State Amateur. He holds course records at the Saline Country Club (57, -13), Helfrich Hills Golf Course (64, -7) and Fairfield Country Club (63, -7).
Justin and his wife, Amanda, were married earlier this month.
What they're saying about Coach Fetcho
"Justin is bringing a lot of experience to SIU. He did a wonderful job at Illinois, and I'm excited that he has the opportunity to advance his career. He's a tireless worker in every aspect of the job, and I think he's going to do great things for the Southern Illinois program." - Mike Small, head men's golf coach at Illinois
"Southern Illinois is getting one of the best young coaches in America in Justin Fetcho. There is no doubt in my mind that he will put that program on the map quickly. He is a proven winner, and I am so happy for him." - Chris Malloy, head men's golf coach at Ole Miss
"This is a tremendous hire for Southern Illinois and the Missouri Valley Conference. Competition makes us all stronger, and SIU has hired a great coach to build on the foundation set by Coach Newton." - Ray Kralis, head men's golf coach at Illinois State
"Justin has such a passion for both the southern Illinois area and Southern Illinois University. He's a tireless recruiter, and his passion for his job and his home region will grow the whole Saluki program." - Pat Goss, head men's golf coach at Northwestern
"SIU has hired one of the top young coaches in all of college golf. Justin has been a part of one of the most successful programs in the country, and that experience will instantly elevate Southern Illinois golf. Most importantly, he is a first-class person and will be an excellent role model for his players." - Steve Bailey, head men's golf coach at Marquette
"Congratulations to SIU on one of the best hires in collegiate golf this year. Justin will hit the ground running. He is an outstanding recruiter and will be a great leader to those young men at SIU. He is an elite player in his own right, which will be a huge asset to the program, and his on-course work is second-to-none. I promise there will not be a program more prepared to play at an elite level in the MVC moving forward. Justin is from southern Illinois, and I know that region is important to him. I see special things to come for SIU men's golf." - Dave Pezzino, head men's golf coach at UCONN
"I have no doubt that Coach Fetcho will work tirelessly and passionately. He will apply his diverse coaching and playing experience to make an immediate impact on the Southern Illinois program." - Ria Scott, head women's golf coach at Oregon