UCLA Men’s Golf Hires Arizona State Assistant Armen Kirakossian as New Coach

The Bruins have found the next leader for their program.

UCLA Men’s Golf has hired Arizona State assistant head coach Armen Kirakossian as its next head coach, the program announced Monday. Kirakossian spent the last five seasons with the Sun Devils, starting as an assistant coach in 2017 before being promoted to associate head coach in 2019.

Kirakossian replaces Derek Freeman, who announced on Nov. 1 that he would be retiring at the end of the season, 14 years after leading the Bruins to their first and only NCAA championship in 2008.

Prior to coaching at Arizona State, Kirakossian was also an assistant at Pepperdine, just a few miles from Westwood. Prior to that, he was the head coach at his alma mater Texas Pan American.

“Every coach dreams of being able to lead a program at a prestigious university and athletic department like UCLA,” Kirakossian said in a statement. “I cannot thank Martin Jarmond, Chris Carlson and the selection committee enough for their faith in me. Throughout the process, it was clear that UCLA is a special place that attracts great people. I will ensure the players have a great faculty golf experience, achieving greatness on the course and in the classroom.”

At the end of the 2018-2019 season, Kirakossian won the Strickland Award, given to the best assistant coach in the country. Under Kirakossian and head coach Matt Thurmond, the Sun Devils had back-to-back NCAA championship appearances in 2021 and 2022, finishing third and second, respectively.

Kirakossian has coached each of the last three Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year honorees, and Arizona State has finished in the top 10 of Golfweek’s final rankings in each of the last four seasons. During Kirakossian’s tenure at Tempe, the Sun Devils have amassed 15 team wins and 15 individual wins, and produced 11 All-Americans and 17 All-Pac 12 teammates — more than anyone in the conference.

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UCLA finished 12th and 6th in the last two Pac-12 tournaments, compared to second and third place Arizona State. The Bruins have recorded just one team win in the past three seasons and have not progressed past the NCAA Regionals since 2018.

Kirakossian is the fifth of Thurmond’s former assistants at Arizona State to take a job as a Division I head coach elsewhere. He also competed as former Sun Devil Chun An Yu’s caddie at the 2018 US Open.

The arrival of Kirakossian is the fourth head coach Jarmond has hired since he took over as sporting director in 2020, all of whom have arrived in the past six months. New UCLA women’s rowing coach Previn Chandraratna was hired internally after his stints as caretaker coach and assistant with the Bruins, but Jarmond has now hired three senior assistants from around the country to oversee programs on campus.

“Armen brings with him a wealth of championship-level achievement as he has helped produce some of the best amateur golfers in the nation,” Jarmond said in a statement. “His ability to connect and develop student athletes has made him one of the best assistant coaches in the country and I’m excited to welcome him to Westwood!”

Stanford’s Margueritte Aozasa became Jarmond’s first head coach when he brought her in in December to fill the UCLA women’s soccer vacancy, and Cal’s Janelle McDonald was next to join the Bruins when she took over UCLA gymnastics in May. If you add Kirakossian, all three outside jobs Jarmond has done have been award-winning Pac-12 assistants.

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