Distractions before Big East Championships

Startling news disrupted the Marquette men’s golf team’s preparation for the Big East Championship earlier this week as the Marquette Athletic Department announced that coach Tim Grogan would be taking an indefinite leave of absence.

Grogan is a veteran of the golf program, having led the team for the past 19 years. His leave of absence right before the biggest tournament of the year raised questions, but players and staff declined further comment.

“I will say that things are going smooth, and we’re in a good frame of mind right now,” senior Mike McDonald said.

In his wake, Associate Athletic Director Jim Nasiopulos will take over as acting head coach. Nasiopulos is in his 28th year at Marquette, having been in charge of facilities and events for the past 17 years. He was also the coach of the golf team for six years in the 80s and 90s.

“Under the circumstances with Tim (Grogan) being on an indefinite leave, the golf program reports through me as an athletic administrator,” Nasiopulos said. “I’ve been involved with the program for a couple of years so (Athletic Director) Steve Cottingham asked me to step in.”

The team has taken the news in stride and Nasiopulos believes Grogan’s departure will not affect results this weekend.

“The team is very prepared,” Nasiopulos said. “I give all the credit to the athletes, to the team. They are focused and are coming off a good showing at the Irish Creek Tournament. They know they have a great chance to do something at the Big East.”

McDonald said his focus is only on performing well at the tournament.

“We’re going into it with a positive frame of mind,” McDonald said. “All the guys had signs of playing really well last tournament. We’ve been really productive and gotten a lot of practice in. We’re probably going into the Big East tournament in the best frame of mind that we’ve had all year.”

Marquette expects nothing short of a victory this weekend. Junior Ben Sieg said he would be disappointed if the team didn’t win the tournament.

Nasiopulos also believes the Golden Eagles can repeat their performance from 2008 and win the conference championship.

“Our expectations at the Big East are that we will win the thing,” Nasiopulos said. “We expect to put up good scores and a good showing, and our goal is to win.”

The tournament will be played at the Innisbrook Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla. Although Marquette has not competed in a tournament at the course, it is familiar to the team.

“We got to experience it a couple times over spring break,” Sieg said. “They had a PGA Tour event there, and we went there and watched all the pros play it, which is a really good experience. ”

As for the head coaching situation, Sieg said that would be something to worry about after the tournament.

“Right now we’re just focusing on golf, and I feel like we are just starting to peak,” Sieg said. “We’re very excited to play some golf, and we’ll deal with coach Grogan situation after the Big East Championship.”