The South County and University of Rhode Island athletic communities are mourning the loss of Tom Drennan, a Hall of Fame golf coach with the Rams and a fixture on the local sports scene who died Sunday at the age of 81.
Drennan was a 2015 inductee into URI’s Athletics Hall of Fame after a 22-year run as the school’s head golf coach. During his tenure, the Rams qualified for NCAA Regional play for 16 consecutive years, from 1992-2007. In 2004, URI finished eighth in the East Regional to become the first team from the Northeast to advance to the NCAA Championship since the regional format was adopted in 1988.
“I know that I speak for our entire department when I say that we are heartbroken about Tom’s passing,” director of athletics Thorr Bjorn said in a statement. “It truly was an honor to work alongside Tom. He was a man of great integrity who was an incredible mentor to countless student-athletes, as well as colleagues. I will certainly miss our conversations and the friendship we developed over the past 13 years.”
Drennan was also inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2008 and was a nine-time New England and three-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year. In addition to his golf duties, Drennan served as an assistant men’s basketball coach at URI from 1973-78 and was the head basketball coach and athletics director at Roger Williams from 1966-74. He also coached girls basketball at South Kingstown High School. After his retirement as URI’s golf coach, he could be seen lending a hand at South Kingstown High School golf matches. In total, he spent 50 years on sidelines.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tom’s wife Nancy, as well as all of his children and grandchildren,” Bjorn said. “I hope they are able to find a sense of comfort and pride in knowing the positive impact he had on so, so many lives. We are all better people for the time we shared with him.”
In recent years, Drennan was on sidelines again, this time cheering on his many grandchildren in their athletic exploits at area schools.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Drennan’s name may be made to the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) RI Chapter, PO Box 41659, Providence, RI, 02940.