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Argyle hires former Andrews coach Mark Burgen to lead golf program

Mark Burgen, a state-title winning coach who was controversially relieved of his coaching duties at Andrews recently, has been hired as the new boys and girls golf coach at Argyle.

Argyle Superintendent Telena Wright confirmed Thursday that Burgen will join the school's staff. Burgen will replace boys coach Brady Bell and girls coach Sammye Townsend. Townsend retired in March, while Bell, who just led the Argyle boys to their third straight Class 4A title, has stepped down to be an assistant principal at Argyle's intermediate school campus.

"We've done it that way [one coach for both girls and boys] in the past, but not recently since Brady has been with the boys," Wright said. 

Wright did not have any comment on recent issues between Burgen and the Andrews school district that ultimately led to him being ousted as girls coach. According to the Odessa American, Burgen was suspended and later removed as coach by the Andrews school board for  texting and driving with a student in the vehicle. 

An Andrews police report confirmed that Burgen committed a Class C misdemeanor in using a wireless communication device in a school crossing zone or while operating a school bus with a minor passenger, the American reported.

Burgen was not present when Andrews' girls team won its seventh straight golf title. He led Andrews to its previous six state championships.

The decision to remove Burgen as coach has been met with harsh criticism from former players who praised him for his dedication to the team and school district.

"I have never met someone so dedicated to his job, family, coaching and everything else he is involved in," Andrews' Kinzee McAllister said in an email sent to the American. "And by dedicated I mean you should see some of the conditions we practice in (rain, snow, etc.). I can promise you no other coach in the state of Texas would have their players practice in that and that is what makes our program so strong. Coach Burgen makes it a priority to not only teach us how to improve our golf game, but he teaches us life lessons while doing so."

Bell, who just wrapped up his seventh season with the boys team at Argyle, said he feels confident in the direction both the boys and girls teams will be going with Burgen. 

But Bell's contributions over the years in building the boys program cannot go understated.

The Eagles have made seven straight trips to the region tournament and have advanced to the state tournament in each of the last six seasons. After a fourth-place finish and back-to-back second-place finishes, Argyle won the last three titles. 

Bell said the original plan was for him to possibly step in to lead both the boys and girls programs. But when the opportunity to take on an administrative role came into the picture, it was too good to pass up.

"It's not like I was leaving something that I didn't want to do anymore or that the program wasn't going to do good next year. I love coaching and these kids. The way I look at it is that this will give me a chance to spend more time with my own kids.

"As for Mark, I do think he will do some good things. I'm very happy with him coming in. He's asked me a lot of questions, and that tells me he's ready to hit the ground running."

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.