ABILENE, Texas (News Release) — Joe Golding, who transformed Abilene Christian University men’s basketball into a nationally recognized mid-major program over the course of a decade, announced Tuesday he has accepted the head coaching position at his University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
“This was not an easy decision. I spent 20 years of my life on this campus, which raised me from a boy to a man. We’ve gone through peaks and valleys together, but at the end of the day I couldn’t be happier for what we’ve built here at Abilene Christian — one of the best mid-major programs in the country,” said Golding. “Our vision and dream for DI basketball at ACU became a reality, and everything we accomplished together was because we earned it. As such, I will forever be in debt to all my former players and staff members. They are the reason I have this opportunity at UTEP. And even though I’m leaving, I’ll always be a Wildcat and wish my alma mater nothing but the best. They’ll always have my support.”
Golding recently completed his 10th season as head coach of the Wildcats, leading them to an overall record of 24-5, second Southland Conference Championship and first round NCAA Tournament win (53-52) over The University of Texas Longhorns, widely acknowledged as the biggest sports moment in ACU’s history.
“We will always be grateful for Joe Golding, who excelled here as a student-athlete and for the determination he displayed in developing our men’s basketball program into a winner in the NCAA Tournament. I know he’ll carry the same determination into his new role,” said ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert. “There are exciting days ahead for ACU as we enter the Western Athletic Conference with new synergy, a terrific coliseum venue and the momentum of these last several seasons. We are confident in finding another quality head coach who understands our unique heritage and can lead us to even greater success and national visibility.”
Golding leaves the Wildcats with an overall record of 158-144 (.523) following the team’s third straight 20-win season. He guided the Wildcats to their first Southland Conference Championship and March Madness appearance in 2019 (27-7) and had them poised to win a possible second title in 2020 (20-11) when the postseason was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ACU came back stronger in 2020-21 and sailed through the Southland tournament, beating Lamar, 93-71, and Nicholls, 79-45.
Five ACU players made all-conference and both Golding and senior starting center Kolton Kohl were recognized at the district level by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Kohl made the association’s first team, and Golding was named Co-Coach of the Year.
“What Joe has accomplished here over the last few years is nothing short of extraordinary,” said ACU Athletics Director Allen Ward. “He put ACU men’s basketball on the map by completely revamping its culture and making it a prime destination for coveted recruits. I and many others on this campus are indebted to his hard work and dedication, and I’m so grateful that I got to work with him these last three years. I am very happy he received this opportunity to coach at UTEP, but we will miss him greatly.”
Golding inherited a nine-win team when accepting the head coaching job from then-Athletics Director Jared Mosely in the summer of 2011. His Wildcats won a dozen games in each of their last two years in the Lone Star Conference, and then began a steady climb within the Southland Conference.
The program posted its first .500 season (16-16) in 2017-18 and was invited to compete at the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament, where the Wildcats lost at Drake in overtime, 80-73.
But with the core of that team coming back (Jaren Lewis, Jaylen Franklin, Drake Green) the following year, the Wildcats shot up to second place in the Southland standings and battled past both Southeastern Louisiana (69-66) and New Orleans (77-60) to reach their first NCAA Tournament in only their second year of eligibility.
Golding’s record with the Wildcats over his last four years was 87-39 (.690).
“The future of this program is extremely bright,” added Ward. “With our upcoming move to the WAC, the opening of a state-of-the-art facility and our recent championship success, this is a great job. I’m confident that our new coach will be able to build on the momentum of the 2020-21 season. The search for our next coach is already underway.”
Golding was a four-year letterwinner at ACU from 1994-98, playing in all 108 games, and was given the Teague Point Guard Award as a senior. He shot 46 percent from the floor over his four-year career, and averaged 4.3 points and 4.2 assists per game. He graduated from ACU with a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science in May 1999.
Golding and his wife, Amanda, have two sons, Cason and Chase.