Sunday, June 10, 2018

Baker Announces Head Golf Coach Karen Exon Retirement, Hires New Head Coach

Compiled from Press Release by Tyler Price, Assistant Director of Athletics | Communications

BALDWIN CITY, Kansas – Longtime Baker University head golf coach Karen Exon announced her retirement from the profession after 21 years as women’s golf coach (she started that program in 1997) and 13 years as the men’s golf coach. Her retirement will be effective on June 30, 2018.  

Along the way, Exon produced more than 40 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes from the two golf programs, five NAIA Women’s Golf All-Americans, Baker Golf’s first-ever CoSIDA Academic All-American, and one Baker University Athletics Women’s Golf Hall of Fame winner.  Under Exon five Baker Women’s Golf teams qualified to compete in NAIA Women’s Golf National Championships 2000, 2002, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Golf Coach Karen Exon will retire June 30.
Meghan Lewis-Houtsma qualified for the NAIA Women’s Golf National Championship four-straight years from 1999-2002 and was a three-time NAIA Women’s Golf All-American.  Sarah Payne was also an NAIA Golf All-American in 2000 finishing 13th and 2002 finishing 4th at those Women’s National Championships. Meghan Lewis-Houtsma won the 1999, 2000 and 2002 Heart Athletic Conference Championship individual crowns and went on to become a three-time NAIA Women’s Golf All-American. Both the 2000 and 2002 Baker University Women’s Golf teams with Lewis-Houtsma playing number one and Sarah Payne playing number two qualified for the NAIA National Championship, with team finishes of eighth and sixth respectively. Lewis-Houtsma was the 2000 NAIA Women’s Golf Championship individual runner-up; and finished twelfth in 2001 and tenth in 2002.

Lindsey Mateer helped lead the BU women’s golf program to three Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships from 2013-2015. Mateer earned the program’s first-ever CoSIDA Academic All-America award for her contributions as a citizen, in the classroom and on the golf course.

Exon became Baker University Head Men’s Golf Coach in 2005. She led the 2009, 2013 and 2014 Men’s Golf teams to second place finishes in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

“It has been my honor and privilege to serve and work these last 29 years with Baker University students and student-athletes,” said Exon. “Baker University’s institutional goals and aspirations have been congruent with my own goals and aspirations--commitment to liberal arts education with an emphasis on critical thinking and communication where students and student-athletes are expected to excel in our concentric communities as good citizens, life-long learners, and effectively prepared professionals. Only in such an intentional intellectual community can students and professors learn together and from one another as we seek to make a positive difference.”

Coach Exon came to Baker in 1989 as a one-year “Visiting Assistant Professor” of History and Political Science while finishing her Doctorate from the University of Kansas in the winter of 1989. That same winter she was hired by Baker University to serve as a tenure-track Assistant Professor.  Exon earned Associate Professor rank and academic tenure in 1995. She was awarded full Professor rank in 2000. Exon served as Department Chair of History, Political Science & Sociology from 1995 to 2005 and as the University Pre-Law Advisor from 1991 to 2010. She retired from academic service at Baker University in 2010 but continued her athletics service.

Exon was awarded Heart of America Athletic Conference Women’s Golf Coach-of-the-Year four times (2006, 2013, 2014 and 2015). She served the Heart of America Athletic Conference as Women’s Golf Rater for over 10 years and as Conference Chair of Men’s and Women’s Golf from 2011 to 2018.  Exon served as Tournament Committee Chair of the, 2010, 2011 and 2012 NAIA Women’s Golf National Championships.

Baker University students and administration recognized Exon for her academic performance with the 1993 Most Outstanding Professor awarded by the Baker University Student Senate, 1998 inaugural Kopke Distinguished University Teaching Award, and 2001 Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.  

“Karen Exon has been a champion of the student-athlete at Baker University,” said Baker Director of Athletics, Nate Houser. "She made very purposeful choices when recruiting the athletes and always had high standards for her student-athletes on and off the golf course. She helped to mold them into successful graduates and leaders after their time in the golf program.”  

Coach Exon has also served Golf initiatives in Kansas, regionally and nationally.  She served the Kansas Women’s Golf Association (KWGA) for over 20 years as a one-term Vice President, four terms as President, two terms as Publications Director, one year as Competitions Director, and for many years as a Golf competitions rules referee. She currently serves the Kansas Golf Association (KGA) as a Director, Chair of Women’s Competitions Committee, and rules referee. Exon has served the United State Golf Association (USGA) as Regional Affairs Committee member since 2014 and as a rules referee. And she will serve as a rules referee for the 2018 World Amateur Team Championships (WATC) early this fall in Ireland (she refereed at the 2016 WATC in Mexico).  

Exon will serve as a volunteer Assistant Coach for the Wildcat Golf programs for the 2018-19 season. Baker University will announce the new Men’s and Women’s Golf Head Coach in the near future.

 Baker University later announced its new head women’s and men’s golf coach, would be Golf Assistant-Coach Andy Kelley who will take over both programs, replacing Exon after she leaves June 30. 
Golf Assistant-Coach Andy Kelley will be
the new head Golf Coach.

Kelley, a 2014 Baker graduate, played four years for the Baker golf team from 2010-2014 and was a three-time All-Heart selection.

He was a team captain in 2013 and 2014 and helped lead the Wildcats to back-to-back Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament Runner-Up finishes.

The Wildcats won five-straight tournaments his senior season and he finished individually in the Top 5 in over 15 tournaments in his four-years with the program.

This past 2017-18 golf season, Kelley served as assistant golf coach alongside coach Exon.

“I am incredibly excited to take over the program that meant so much to me during my undergraduate time here at Baker,” said Kelley. “During my four years as a player we experienced a lot of success on both men’s and women’s teams. And I look forward to continuing to build on the accomplished program that Coach Exon built over her 21 years as coach. I was fortunate to be a part of an incredible three year run on staff as an assistant with the women’s basketball team here at Baker and I look forward to transitioning what I learned from that time and combine it with my knowledge and passion for the sport of golf.” 

Kelley also served an integral role in the success of the BU women’s basketball program from 2014-17, as he served as a graduate assistant under head coach Ben Lister for two seasons and then in his final season as an assistant coach.

The Wildcats had unprecedented success in those three seasons, as they posted a 79-24 record with two trips to the NAIA National Quarterfinals and the programs first-ever appearance in the NAIA National Championship game in 2016.

Baker was honored with several individual awards as well on the hardwood, including four NAIA All-Americans, ten Heart All-Conference award winners, as well as Heart Defensive Player of the Year and Heart Player of the Year.

“We are very excited to welcome Andy as a head coach,” said Baker Director of Athletics Nate Houser. “His tireless work as an assistant, his knowledge of Baker and his passion as a coach make him the perfect fit for our head men's and women's golf programs. Andy will bring an new energy to the program and athletic department as he puts his stamp on Baker golf!”

Kelley will officially take over as head coach on July 1, 2018.

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