University of Arizona Director of Athletics Greg Byrne has announced that head men's golf coach Rick LaRose will retire at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Currently in his 39th season as a Wildcats head coach and his 34th as the men's golf head coach, LaRose will retire on July 1 and immediately return as a part-time special assistant to the director of athletics, where his duties will include fundraising events, primarily focusing on raising money for a golf practice facility.
A national search for LaRose's replacement will begin immediately.
"It is difficult to overstate the impact Coach LaRose has had on our golf programs," said Byrne. "For nearly four decades, he has built Arizona into one of the elite names in all of college golf."
Initially hired as the men's head water polo coach and assistant swim coach in 1973, LaRose guided the water polo program to four NCAA regional championships and three fifth-place finishes at the NCAA Championships. His teams were never ranked out of the top six nationally and produced five All-Americans and one U.S. Olympian. LaRose compiled a 154-37-2 (.803) record as the UA water polo head coach.
He took over the men's golf head coaching duties in 1978-79, and quickly established Arizona golf as one of the finest college golf programs in the country. LaRose guided the men's squad to the 1992 NCAA title. LaRose began double-duty as the head coach for both the Arizona men's and women's programs (1996-98, 2010) led the women to the 1996 NCAA title. Each squad was ranked No. 1 during those seasons.
His golf teams have been ranked in the top 20 in 26 of those 34 seasons, including a string of eight consecutive years that the Cats were ranked in the top three nationally. Further, the team has been the nation's No. 1 team 13 different times.
He is the only coach in NCAA history to win both a men's (1992) and women's (1996) national championship. LaRose's teams have won two NCAA titles, seven NCAA regional championships, four Pac-10 crowns and three Rolex Match Play titles.
In addition to being the only coach in college golf to coach both a men's and women's NCAA championship team, he is also the only one to produce both a men's and women's Rolex Match Play and Pac-10 championship teams. His finishes at the NCAAs not only include the 1992 men's and 1996 women's titles, but six third-place, two fifth-place and two sixth-place efforts.
Since 1978, LaRose's golf teams have won 62 men's tournaments and 19 women's tourneys. He also has produced seven national players of the year, 11 Pac-10 Players of the Year, 68 All-Americans, 109 all-Pac-10 Conference performers, two United States Amateur winners (and three runner-ups), five United States Walker Cup players, a pair of Ryder Cup golfers, a U.S. President's Cup performer and three U.S. Publinx champions.
Eighteen of his pupils also have represented the U.S. in international collegiate competition.
He has coached some of the most notable collegiate golfers of the last four decades, including Ricky Barnes, David Berganio, Jim Furyk, Robert Gamez, Henry Liaw, Eric Meeks, Chris Nallen, Ted Purdy, Rory Sabbatini, Larry Silveira, Mike Springer and Manny Zerman among others. He also had a hand in coaching two-time NCAA Women's Golfer of the Year and 1996 national champion, Marisa Baena, and notables like Heather Graf, Krissie Register and Jenna Daniels.
"I've been fortunate to have coached so many outstanding student-athletes," said LaRose, "and I take a great deal of pride in what we were able to accomplish together. I've coached so many great kids, worked with so many great people and have so many great memories."
Last season, he surpassed the 6,000-win plateau in head-to-head competition.
LaRose's current squad opens competition at the 2012 Pac-12 Men's Golf Championships on April 27 in Corvallis, Ore.