WACO, Texas – Sylvia Ferdon, who has led Baylor to unprecedented heights during her 17-year tenure as its head coach, will retire from the position May 31, 2011, and a national search for her successor will be launched, Baylor Director of Athletics Ian McCaw said Tuesday.

“This program is very special to me, but I believe now is the time to step aside and let someone else build upon the foundation which has been established,” Ferdon said. “Not only have we had good golfers in our program over the years, but we’ve had quality young women who have represented Baylor well in the classroom and the community.

“I want to thank all of the student-athletes who have worked hard over the years to establish a tradition of excellence in this program, both in the classroom and on the golf course,” she added. “I leave Baylor with many great memories and believe great days are ahead for this program. We have an awesome incoming class that will add to our returning senior leaders, which should make for a bright future.”

Ferdon’s 2011 Bears finished eighth at the Big 12 Championship which concluded April 24th in Columbia, Mo., with a three-day score of 36-over-par (301-294-305=900), which set the program 54-hole low at the Big 12 Championship (BU’s previous low was 914 in 2005). Baylor junior Jaclyn Jansen posted her fifth career top-10 finish, tying for sixth place at the 2011 Big 12 Championship with a three-day even-par 216 to earn Big 12 All-Tournament honors. Jansen is the 12th Big 12 All-Tournament selection in program history, all of which have come during Ferdon’s tenure, and her 54-hole score was a Baylor Big 12 Championship low, besting Hannah Burke’s 218 in 2010.

While the Baylor team did not receive a 2011 NCAA Regional bid, the Bears’ Chelsey Cothran was selected as one of six individual participants for the 2011 NCAA West Regional, May 5-7 in Auburn, Wash. Cothran, one of 18 individuals to play at three host national sites, is the first golfer in program history to participate as an individual at the NCAA Regional level and gives Baylor an NCAA Regional presence for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

“We are grateful for Sylvia’s leadership of our women’s golf program over the past 17 years,” McCaw said. “She has made a tremendous investment in the lives of her student-athletes as a teacher, coach and role model. Moreover, we are indebted to Sylvia for the outstanding accomplishments of her team both in the classroom and on the golf course.”

A two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year selection (2000, 2009), Ferdon led Baylor to its highest Big 12 finish ever (third) on three occasions (2001, 2005 and 2007), and the team made 10 NCAA Regional appearances in the last 12 seasons; including a run of eight-consecutive trips from 2000 through 2007 which was highlighted by its first-ever NCAA Championship berth in 2004, where it finished tied for 19th-place. She helped Baylor to top-five finishes in 58 of 110 tournaments over the past 10 seasons, including 17 team titles. Of the 104 top-five finishes in program history, 89 came on Ferdon’ watch.

Baylor has produced six All-Big 12 players, who have combined for nine awards, during Ferdon’s tenure. Ali Brewer was a second-team selection in 1999 and 2000, Melanie Hagewood in spring of 2001 and 2003 and Josefin Svenningsson in 2004. Hannah Burke and Allison Martin earned All-Big 12 honors in 2007, with Burke claiming the accolade again in 2008 and 2010 to become the first three-time All-Big 12 performer in school history.

In the classroom, Baylor golfers have also excelled, as the program received 2009 and 2010 public recognition awards from the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program for having an Academic Progress Rates (APR) score which ranked among the top 10 percent within its sport. Baylor golfers earned a total of 37 Academic All-Big 12 awards under Ferdon, including 25 first-team honorees, and annually place multiple honorees on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

Ferdon, who served as Florida State’s head coach in 1974-75 after working as a volunteer assistant the University of Florida in 1973-74, played five years on the LPGA Tour and, in 1992, earned her way into the LPGA Championship by winning the LPGA Central Section Championship. Following the LPGA Tour, Ferdon claimed a victory at the LaGrange Classic on the WPGT mini-tour. She was also a member of the European WPGA tour.

Recognized not only as a gifted player, but a fine teacher as well, Ferdon has been a Class A member with the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Division since 1990. From 1986 to 1995, she taught golf at Baylor and polished her ability to work with student-athletes.

A 1968 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a member of the school's athletic hall of fame, Ferdon received her Master's in Education from Tarleton State University. She is married to Dr. Douglas Ferdon, Associate Professor and former Chairman of the Department of Journalism at Baylor University. They will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in August 2011.