Coastal Carolina University did not renew the contract of men’s golf coach Kevin McPherson in the wake of his arrest on initial charges of misdemeanor second-degree domestic violence on June 15.
McPherson was arrested after Horry County police responded to a complaint by his wife of two years shortly after midnight. The university initially suspended McPherson indefinitely.
CCU athletics director Matt Hogue said McPherson’s contract expired at the end of June and the school decided not to offer an extension.
Hogue said assistant coach Chad Wilson is the interim head coach for the 2016-17 season and the school is not currently searching for a men’s golf coach. Hogue said he could not elaborate further.
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According to the police report, McPherson’s estranged wife accused him of assaulting her at a private boat landing in Murrells Inlet following a verbal argument.
She alleges in the police report that McPherson grabbed her by the throat and lifted her from the deck of a boat, restricting her breathing, then threw her, causing the right side of her face to strike the boat.
The police report states she had apparent swelling to the right side of her face, a black eye and red marks on the right side of her neck – alleged injuries that were photographed at the scene.
McPherson could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Amy Lawrence of the Lovely Law Firm, reiterated Monday that she believes McPherson did not assault his wife.
Lawrence said she received a voicemail from the assigned prosecutor, Pierce Haar of the Horry County Solicitor’s Office, on Sept. 9 informing her the case was being dismissed.
But she said Haar informed her Sept. 12 that a superior overruled his decision and the charges were instead being lessened from second degree to third degree, and the case was being remanded from general session court to magistrate court.
Lawrence said penalties for a second-degree conviction are a sentence of 0 to 3 years and fine between $2,500 and $5,000, and penalties for a third-degree conviction are up to nine months in jail and a fine between $1,000 and $2,500.
“We did not feel (Haar) could prove domestic violence second; it’s more appropriately charged as domestic violence third,” Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said. “We believe we could prove a third degree.”
Evidence presented in the defense’s push for a dismissal included a passed polygraph test by McPherson that was administered by a Florence police officer, a supporting affidavit from an acquaintance of his wife, and a harassment complaint filed by McPherson against his wife in April. McPherson’s wife said she has also consented to a polygraph test.
McPherson is a Conway native who played for the Conway High golf team. He took over the CCU men’s program in September 2013, a few weeks after the resignation of Allen Terrell following 13 years leading the program. CCU had self-reported violations within the program of improper extra benefits and recruiting misconduct allegedly committed by Terrell to the NCAA.
Prior to his hire at CCU, McPherson spent two seasons as the head men’s coach at Augusta State and was part of the Jaguars’ back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2010 and 2011 as an assistant coach. He additionally served as the Jaguars’ head women’s coach from 2008-11.
Wilson was elevated to interim head coach in August.
“Certainly it was a difficult situation for everyone, but at the end of the day this is the way the administration wanted to go about things,” Wilson said. “I’m pretty excited for this opportunity. I have a pretty good relationship with the guys and … I’m excited to help them reach their goals on and off the golf course.”
Wilson joined the CCU staff last season after two seasons as an assistant at his alma mater, Kennesaw State, where he helped the Owls reach the 2014 NCAA Championship. He entered coaching as an assistant at Lee University after graduating from Kennesaw State in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.
The Coastal Carolina men’s golf team opened its 2016-17 season last week in The Invitational at The Ocean Course hosted by College of Charleston, finishing ninth out of 16 teams.
Senior Alredo Ruiz recorded his best finish at CCU with a runner-up, shooting an 8-under par 70-69-69–208 despite a triple bogey on the last hole of his second round to finish one stroke behind medalist Jake Marriott of Augusta. But Ruiz was the only Chant in the top 40. CCU returns to action Oct. 8-9 at the Tar Heel Intercollegiate at UNC’s Finley Golf Club.
Wilson hopes the interim tag is removed and that he is eventually named the head coach. “If that’s the way the university wants to go after this year I’d be ecstatic for that to happen, but right now I’m focused on our next event,” he said.