TAMPA, Fla. - The University of Tampa has announced Gary Hilton as its head men's golf coach. Hilton becomes the program's seventh head men's golf coach, following Rick Christie, who served the last 27 years as the head coach.
"Words cannot express how honored and privileged I am to accept the opportunity offered to me by the University of Tampa," says Hilton. "I would like to thank President Ronald Vaughn and Athletic Director Larry Marfise for this unbelievable opportunity. I would also like to thank those at my previous schools for all the support I have had the past six years, especially the players and coaches that have been a part of my coaching career."
Hilton previously spent three years as the head men's golf coach at Albany State University. Prior to his stint at ASU, Hilton led the Darton State College men's golf program from 2013-16.
"I am excited to get to Tampa so I can meet with the team and get to work building for the future," states Hilton. "There is a lot of recruiting to be done and my plan is to hit the ground running to see if we can build off the program's prior successes."
Hilton was named the head coach at ASU in 2016 and it immediately paid dividends as the Golden Rams won three consecutive Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Championships in their first three years of existence. He was also honored as the top coach in the conference all three years.
He led the Golden Rams to three straight NCAA South Regional appearances, marking the only bids in program history. Under his guidance, he coached the SIAC Golfer of the Year in each of his three seasons, beginning with Dominic DiGiacomo in 2017. Tyler Hanson was named the 2018 SIAC Golf Player of the Year while Chase McLain captured the same honor in 2019. His teams also excelled academically with a 3.30-plus GPA in each of his three seasons at the helm.
Hilton is also a former Darton State College golfer. He played for the Cavaliers from 2000-2002 and was a two-time team captain. During his playing days, Hilton helped begin the long winning streak of 15 straight Region XVII Golf Championships. He was on the school's first team to qualify for the NJCAA National Championships and was an all-region selection during his sophomore year. Hilton continued his collegiate golf career at Georgia Southwestern State University, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education.
During his tenure as Darton head coach, Hilton guided the Cavalier golf program to 13 tournament wins, including three Region XVII Championships and the 2014 District IV Championship. Hilton was named Region XVII Coach of the Year in all three of his seasons at Darton State College and District Coach of the year in 2014 during his first season at the helm. In his first three seasons, Hilton's Cavalier golf teams finished the seasons nationally-ranked.
Hilton's program also produced student-athletes who were successful both academically and athletically. He coached three PING All-Americans, nine All-Region XVII selections & two national all-academic selections. Under Hilton's guidance, the Cavalier golf team continually sent student-athletes to the four-year colleges and universities at Division I, II, and II and NAIA levels.
Hilton is a 2013 graduate of Georgia Southwestern University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in education. He also received his master's degree in public administration in 2018 from Albany State University.