CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern University Athletic Director Hank Small announced the hiring of Jason Payne as head men's golf coach on Monday. Payne comes to CSU with a well-rounded resume featuring a four-year head coaching stint at Mercer and a richly successful tenure as an assistant at Georgia, where he helped the Bulldogs capture back-to-back Southeastern Conference championships.
Payne also has extensive experience with development and marketing through his time as Executive Director of the UGA Tee-Off Club, the fundraising arm of Georgia Golf. He is returning to college coaching after co-founding and serving as CEO of Classic Georgia and Classic Carolinas, a lifestyle brand celebrating those respective states.
"I would like to thank Hank Small, Dr. Bryant and Luke Blackmon for giving me the opportunity to lead the golf program," Payne said. "My family and I are so excited to join the Charleston Southern University family."
"I am thrilled and humbled to be back on campus coaching college golf again," Payne continued. "Some of my closest friends are college coaches and they encouraged me to get back into coaching. I look forward to building on the past success of the current and former student-athletes as well as the former coaches. Charleston Southern has so much to offer its student-athletes. It's going to be a fun journey continuing to build a strong golf program while also building strong men of character."
As an assistant at Georgia from 2007 through 2011, Payne was an integral part of one of the best stretches in program history. Georgia finished the regular season ranked number one nationally in both 2008 and 2009, and won SEC titles in 2009 and 2010. During Payne's four seasons under head coach Chris Haack, the Bulldogs piled up 13 All-American and 14 All-SEC selections. Payne had the opportunity to coach Russell Henley, the 2010 National Player of the Year and now a multiple time winner on the PGA Tour.
In his role as Executive Director of the UGA Tee-Off Club from 2011 through 2013, Payne spearheaded fundraising efforts with an eye toward major gifts and donor stewardship and solicitation. He managed the club's annual operations and helped membership exceed 400 members.
Payne arrived at Georgia after serving as head coach at Mercer from 2003 through 2007. The Georgia alum earned that opportunity after helping Georgia Southern reach back-to-back NCAA Regionals as an assistant coach in 2001 and 2002.
"It's our great pleasure to welcome Coach Payne to our CSU Family," Small said. "He brings a great deal of quality Division I experience and has recruited and helped develop student-athletes who are experiencing success on the PGA Tour. I know that our players will look forward to working with him."
At Mercer, Payne helped the Bears mature as a young Division I program. Mercer played a top-30 schedule in 2007, and moved up over 100 spots in the Golfstat rankings from the previous year. In the classroom, Mercer produced more Academic All-Americans than any other Division I golf program in the country during Payne's tenure. He also raised 100 percent of the funds that resulted in an on-campus practice facility, and aided the department as a whole by facilitating the founding of The Mercer University "M" Club, the student-athlete alumni fundraising association.
Payne got his start in coaching at Georgia Southern, and earned a Masters of Sport Management while in Statesboro. He helped Georgia Southern win the 2003 Southern Conference title on its way to an NCAA Finals appearance. Payne recruited and coached Aron Price, a finalist for the 2005 Ben Hogan Award who went on to reach the PGA Tour.