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(School Release)-- South Dakota State University Athletics Director Justin Sell announced Monday that Casey VanDamme has been hired as the head coach of the Jackrabbits men's and women's golf programs.

"I would like to thank coach Kelson and the University of Tennessee for the opportunity to coach for a top athletics program," VanDamme said. "The past five years were filled with many great experiences and newly formed friendships. Rocky Top will always have a special place in my heart. I will especially miss the players, working for a great head coach Jim Kelson, and the professional support staff and administration."

VanDamme has been a member of the Tennessee men's golf program for the past five seasons, serving as the Director of Instruction and Player Development.

VanDamme becomes SDSU's second-ever full-time golf coach. During his tenure on Rocky Top, UT equaled its best postseason stretch in school history with five trips to the NCAA Championship regionals, advancing to the 2010, 2011 and 2013 NCAA Championship.

"Casey will be dearly missed by our entire program," Tennessee head coach Jim Kelson said. "He was an excellent instructor, coach and mentor to our players during his career at the University of Tennessee. Without question, he has played an integral part of any of our successes we have achieved over the past few years.

"I cannot thank Casey enough for all he has done. He was a terrific co-worker and friend. Everyone in our program is delighted for Casey and his family.

"Casey has worked extremely hard to obtain a head coaching position that would blend his professional goals with his family in mind. The South Dakota State position fits these goals perfectly. There is no question that South Dakota State hired the right person. They are receiving an outstanding golf coach and an even better person.

"Our incoming assistant men's golf coach will have extremely large shoes to fill. I plan to find someone with world class teaching abilities. I am extremely confident that we will achieve this goal. We will begin a national search and I expect to fill this vital position within the next three weeks."

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