Former Sun Devil assistant basketball coach and men's golf head coach Bill Mann passed away recently, as the 2000 Sun Devil Hall of Fame inductee built a 15-year Sun Devil legacy as the men's golf coach and assisted Ned Wulk with some of Arizona State's best basketball teams.
"Coach Mann was an amazing coach and friend who had a positive impact on a lot of Sun Devils on the golf course and the basketball court," said Sun Devil basketball great Art Becker, as Mann joined the men's basketball staff in 1961. "He helped provide our team many great memories and helped build two programs that had much success during his tenure. That helped pave the way towards all of our programs joining the Pac-10."
In his 15 years as men's golf coach from 1961-75 and then in 1987, Mann's squads brought home 26 team titles, including conference titles in 1969 and 1971. He led ASU to seven top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championship, including a third-place finish in 1969. His teams also earned fifth-place finishes in 1966 and 1972. He coached such Sun Devil notables as Howard Twitty, Charlie Gibson, Tom Purtzer, George Boutell, Joe Porter and Bob Gilder, and in 1988 he was inducted into the National Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Born in Prescott in 1924, Mann was known as an ambassador to golf not only for his coaching but for his artistry in writing numbers on the scoreboards at many events across the nation.
"Coach Mann was an icon in our world of golf," says Sun Devil Hall of Fame women's golf coach Linda Vollstedt, who won six NCAA titles in the 1990s. "Not only was he a great coach, but he was very involved in the community and you would see him at tournaments everywhere writing the numbers on the scoreboards. He loved everything about the world of golf, a world that he helped make great with all his efforts."
"As a Sun Devil golfer and then the ASU head coach and as someone who has been around golf my entire life, I appreciate what Coach Mann did for Sun Devil Athletics to put us in a great spot nearly 40 years later," said Tim Mickelson, who competed at Arizona State and the was the head coach from 2011-16.
"For years Coach Mann did the scoreboard for us at our invitational," says former Sun Devil men's golf coach Randy Lein, who led ASU to eight Pac-10 titles in his tenure between 1992-2011. "Coach Mann was a very kind, soft-spoken gentleman and I was happy and lucky to consider him a friend."
He graduated from Tucson High in 1943 and earned letters in football, basketball and baseball. He played a season of football for Miles Casteel before being drafted into the Army. He saw action with Seventh Infantry (tank corp) in Kwajalein, Okinawa and the Phillipines. He entered the service as a private, emerged as a staff sergeant and was awarded a bronze star.
After the war, Mann played four seasons of basketball for coach Fred Enke and was an infielder on the baseball team. From 1946-49, Mann played basketball for Arizona as it won 80 games, won four straight Border Conference titles and played Kentucky in the first postseason game in school history, the National Invitational Tournament in Square Garden. He played in 75 games in his career and was a second-team All-Border Conference pick in 148 as he shot nearly 90 percent from the free throw line and 67 percent from the field.
After graduating from Arizona, he coached basketball at North Phoenix and Camelback high schools in Phoenix, replaced former Wildcats teammate Bruce Larsen as head coach at Weber College in Utah in 1959, then went to Fullerton Junior College and in 1961 was hired as an assistant to Ned Wulk.
He was born on July 24, 1926, to Mr. and Mrs. J.N. Mann of Prescott. Two years later the family moved to Tucson where the elder Mann became head golf pro at Tucson Country Club.
"One of the sweetest and kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. When George Boutell resigned as head coach in 1986, Bill was named our interim coach for a semester, and led our team in a manner and class that I will remember forever. Thank you Bill Mann for giving so much to others, especially to your adopted ASU Golf Family." -- Sun Devil Jim Strickland (1986-89)
"Coach Mann was a truly remarkable man. I feel deeply blessed by his presence in my life. He took a chance on so many of us and gave us the opportunity to be better than we ever thought we could be. He also mentored each one of us on the values and integrity of the game, but even more important, how those characteristics apply to life!" -- Sun Devil Jeff Knudson (1974-76)
@ASUMENSGOLF ALL-AMERICANS UNDER COACH BILL MANN
1975: Gary Jacobson (third), Jeff Thomsen (hm)
1974: Charlie Gibson (second), Gary Jacobson (hm), Rocky Waitt (hm)
1973: Tom Purtzer (second), Bob Gilder (hm), Charlie Gibson (hm)
1972: Howard Twitty (first)
1971: Howard Twitty (third), Dave Sheff (hm)
1970: Howard Twitty (first), Donny Powers (second)
1969: Donny Powers (second), Paul Purtzer (third), John Jackson (hm)
1968: Mike Morley (first), Paul Purtzer (third)
1967: Mike Morley (second), Joe Porter (third)
1966: George Boutell (first), Wayne Vollmer (hm)