Page announces retirement, names Mills as next head coach

From+left%3A+Joel+Nielsen%2C+Beverly+Warren+and+Herb+Page

From left: Joel Nielsen, Beverly Warren and Herb Page

Ian Kreider

Herb Page walked into the Kent State Leadership Center on Thursday surrounded by family, friends and administrators. As Page approached the podium, a quiet hush came over the room with every step. Everyone knew the reason for his press conference.

Page was retiring after 41 seasons as head coach of the golf team. He secured 21 Mid-American Conference titles in his career, while winning the MAC coach of the year 24 times. He also has 18 NCAA Championship tournament appearances. 

“(The decision) was an epiphany when I was driving from Calgary to Medicine Hat Alberta,” Page said. “I think driving up there for three straight hours, you leave at 5 a.m. just to get up there. It was like, ‘What the hell am I doing?’”

Page has appointed current associate head coach Jon Mills as the next head coach effective July 1.

“I still have the energy and the passion, but it’s just kind of time,” Page said. “I wouldn’t have ever left this program without guys like (Jon Mills) and Greg Robertson at the helm.”

Mills gave a tearful introduction thanking his wife for her support. He also was in disbelief. He had a simple response when asked if he thought he would ever be the head coach of the men’s golf team.

“No,” he said as he approached the podium with a perplexed smile.

“Back when I was a player here everything was focused on graduating and then playing professional golf,” he said. “I was so focused on that I knew I was going to be a professional golfer, I knew I was going to play on the PGA Tour. I was so fortunate to take this opportunity. I have always wanted to give back. I have always wanted to work with kids back home.”

Mills graduated from Kent State in 2002 and returned in 2016 after a successful professional golf career. He was a two-time All-American while at Kent State.

In 2007, Page assisted in the construction of an indoor golf facility at Kent State. It was something that he had wanted for years.

“It started off at about $800,000 then it went to $1.1 (million), then it went to $1.4 (million) then it went to 1.8 (million), the next thing we knew it got to $2 million,” he said. “That golf center is phenomenal, and for those who said we couldn’t do it, it’s been there for 12 years.”

He was also a large reason for the inaugural Kent State women’s golf team.

“It’s dear to my heart because when it was brought up that we were perhaps going to add women’s golf I had a great two year run… Laing and president Cartwright did it right. I cannot tell you how proud I am of how that went down. The success speaks for itself.”

Page was unsure when asked about his legacy.

“I’ve never thought about it let me get back to you in a week or so,” Page said while shrugging as the room erupted with laughter. “I’ll tell you something I’ve never given up on anybody…. On the golf course or in the classroom. I always try to push them. If that’s my legacy, that I don’t give up.”

Although he is stepping away from coaching, he said he would still be around in the community.

“It’s my home, my town,” he said. “I’m always going to be here. I’m just across the street. I’m at the golf course. I’m going to stay involved with Kent State University. It’s meant so much to me. As much as I’m retiring… I will be involved. I love this town.”

 Ian Kreider is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]