New Mexico State women's golf coach retires

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- New Mexico State women's golf coach
Joann Cox retired Wednesday, a day before her team begins play in
the NCAA West Regional.

The school said in a news release that Cox's retirement was
effective immediately and that NMSU men's golf coach Scott
Lieberwirth would take over the women's program until a replacement
for Cox is hired.

Athletics Director McKinley Boston said he was surprised by
Cox's decision to retire and said Cox had not been asked to step

"That was her decision," Boston said in a telephone interview.
"I can assure there is absolutely no agenda on our end that
pressured her to resign."

Boston said Cox met with Assistant Athletics Director Maria
Roth, who heads the women's sports programs at NMSU. "They talked
and she decided for personal reasons that she was going to
retire," Boston said.

Cox was not available for comment. A telephone message left at
her office had not been returned. In the school's news release Cox
was quoted as saying she felt it was time for a change "for my
family and myself."

Boston confirmed that Lieberwirth had coached the women's team
at the recent Western Athletic Conference tournament, where the
Aggies finished second to qualify for the regionals that are being
played in Auburn, Wash., starting Thursday.

Boston said Cox had not coached the team at the WAC tournament
for personal reasons.

"We are deeply indebted to coach Cox for all her work and her
commitment to the women's golf program and athletics department
over the years," Boston said. "Under her guidance the women's
golf program reached another level of success."

Cox said coaching the NMSU women's team was "one of the
highlights of my life."

"I feel that the program is on the rise and I am leaving it in
good shape for the future," Cox said.

Cox was named conference coach of the year six times and in 2000
was named the National Golf Coaches Association's Coach of the

This season the Aggies finished with the second best scoring
average in the WAC and qualified for the West Regionals for the
12th time in the last 13 years.

The school said Cox will be paid through the end June as part of
her coaching contract. She will remain at New Mexico State as a
physical education instructor.

Boston said he hopes to name a successor to Cox by late July.