FLORENCE, S.C. - Francis Marion University athletic director Murray Hartzler announced on Monday (June 9) that men’s golf coach Jonathan Burnett has resigned his position to pursue professional interests outside of coaching.
Burnett, 30, recently guided the Patriots to the NCAA Division II national championship, the first in the program’s history.
Hartzler said a search for Burnett’s successor would begin immediately.
Burnett, a Florence native and a Francis Marion University graduate, compiled an 864-386-14 record in seven seasons as the Patriots’ mentor, including a 129-43-2 mark this past season. His career mark includes a .730 winning percentage against Division II competition.
“This was an extremely tough decision for me,” said Burnett. “An announcement about my future plans will be made in the coming weeks. This will be a growth opportunity for me, and yet one that will allow me to continue to follow, and hopefully aid, the Patriot golf program. When looking at my career down the road, this was an opportunity that I could not pass up.
“I will always be thankful to Francis Marion University for the chance it afforded me to be a young head coach at the collegiate level. The relationships I have built with the staff and players will be ones that I will always cherish.”
Hartzler said, “We will definitely miss Jonathan and are sorry to see him leave. We wish him well in his new endeavors. As one of the youngest coaches in the country when he started, he built our golf program into a perennial Top 20 power. He took the team to three national tournaments, and in his last season as coach, to the pinnacle of Division II men’s golf.”
Burnett took over the reins of the Patriot program in September 1996 and guided the 1996-97 FMU squad to a 98-65-2 record. He directed the 1997-98 team to a 147-58-1 record, a No. 17 national ranking, and the school’s first berth in the Division II national tournament, where the Patriots placed 15th. During that year, FMU was ranked as high as fourth in the nation.
In 1998-99, Burnett’s charges posted a 122-63 record, ended the year ranked 21st in the nation, and narrowly missed earning a second straight national tournament bid. The Patriots captured their first-ever Peach Belt Conference Tournament title, and Burnett was named the PBC “Coach of the Year.” The following year, Francis Marion was 109-66-2, again narrowly missed qualifying for the Division II national tournament, and ranked 22nd in the final Top 25 poll.
The 2000-01 season brought FMU’s second conference championship as the Patriots recorded a 135-40-4 record. Francis Marion ended the year ranked 17th after rising to as high as fifth in the country earlier in the season. The 2001-02 FMU squad compiled a 124-51-3 record, earned its second national tournament berth where the Patriots placed 10th, and spent most of the season ranked in the Top 10 in the national poll. Matt Dura tied for third place at the 2002 national championships, the highest finish ever for a Patriot golfer at a national tournament.
During his seven seasons, Burnett coached nine All-Peach Belt Conference performers, three PBC “Freshman of the Year” award winners, nine All-Americans, six academic All-Americans, and one PBC Tournament medalist. One of Burnett’s golfers was a recipient of the 2001 PBC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, while another earned the inaugural MasterCard Graduate Scholarship Award for NCAA Division II men’s golf in 1998.
As a player at Francis Marion, Burnett recorded a 77.3 stroke average as a senior during the 1995-96 season, and was named an All-America Scholar by the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA). He earned All-State honors during his sophomore and senior campaigns. Burnett was named the Patriots' Most Valuable Player his freshman through junior seasons, while recording stroke averages of 76.7, 76.9, and 77.1. He played in 89 of a possible 95 rounds during his career at FMU.
In May 1996, Burnett earned a B.S. degree in political science. He is also a 1992 graduate of James F. Byrnes Academy, where he was a four-time SCISAA All-State performer.
Following his college graduation, he worked for five months as an assistant golf professional at the Florence Country Club, prior to accepting the FMU position.