BOONEVILLE, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College athletic department is expanding its offerings by bringing back a program that often succeeded on both the state and national levels. Northeast is reinstating its men's golf program following a two-year hiatus. The Tigers will officially make their return to head-to-head competition during the 2019-20 academic year. "We are pleased to be able to once again provide an opportunity for the student-athletes that are in our district to play collegiate golf," said Northeast president Ricky Ford. "We are looking forward to what the future holds for our golf program." The Tigers will compete inside the rugged Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) and be classified as a Division II member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Northeast will vie for berths to the national tournament inside the NJCAA's District D, which is currently comprised of the MACJC's Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Hinds Community College, Itawamba Community College, Meridian Community College and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College plus Florida Gateway College.
The addition increases the total number of varsity sports teams at Northeast to seven, including baseball, men's and women's basketball, cheerleading, football and softball. Northeast last fielded a men's golf team during the 2016-17 school year. The Tigers were consistently ranked inside the top 25 of Golfstat's NJCAA Division II national poll throughout that season. The men's golf program at Northeast originated in the spring of 1991 after Craig Lauderdale represented the college at the NJCAA National Tournament and received All-American honors as an individual participant one year earlier.
NJCAA Hall of Famer and legendary coach W.B. "Bill" Ward served as the Tigers' inaugural headman from 1991 until his retirement five years later. His squads frequently finished as one of the top five clubs in the Magnolia State. Two of Ward's linksters in Bobby Childers and Brett Jennings qualified for the NJCAA National Tournament at St. Simons, Ga., in 1993. Jason Cutshall and Kevin Harvell became the next Northeast duo to reach the NJCAA's championship event in 1997 when it was contested at Pine Needles Golf Club in North Carolina.
The Tigers continued their prosperity under the direction of coach Laurin Collins by sending three players, including Jeff Stokes, to the NJCAA National Tournament and winning their first-ever tournament title in 2000 at Corinth's Shiloh Ridge Athletic Club. Andy Greening's tenure at the helm of Northeast's golf program featured a victory at Co-Lin in 2002 and the initial sub-300 round in school history during an event hosted by Holmes Community College in Canton one season later. Lauderdale returned to his alma mater in 2004 and eventually became the longest serving head coach of the Tigers. He captured back-to-back NJCAA Region 23 championships while at Northeast from 2007-08.
The regional crowns allowed the Tigers to travel to Jamestown, N.Y., for the NJCAA Division III National Tournament. Lauderdale also instructed a pair of All-Americans in Blake Hatfield and Chase Williams during his eight years at Northeast. The most recent player to collect All-American laurels for the Tigers was Alex Tull in 2015. He ended in a tie for 13th place at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament at Goose Pond Colony Resort in Scottsboro, Ala., to conclude a brilliant campaign under the watch of coach Mark Hatfield.
Northeast boasts a total of two region titles, four All-Americans and 11 athletes that entered the NJCAA National Tournament based upon individual scoring during its rich history on the links.
Blake Long Sports Information Director