MARTIN (April 26) – The University of Tennessee at Martin athletic director Kurt McGuffin has tabbed Chase Thrasher as the fifth head rodeo coach in school history, effective July 1. Thrasher will succeed John Luthi, who in February announced his intent to retire after 25 years at the helm.
“We are thrilled to hand over the reigns to Chase at the conclusion of this season,” McGuffin said. “Chase’s familiarity with the program really stood out during the interview process and he came very highly recommended from our current student-athletes. We are excited about the future of our rodeo program under Coach Thrasher moving forward.”
Thrasher is currently in his first season as an assistant coach at his alma mater after a remarkable career as a student-athlete. Competing under Luthi from 2017-21, Thrasher was a four-time qualifier for the College National Finals Rodeo. He represented the Skyhawks at the annual event in Casper, Wyoming, on three different occasions, concluding his freshman season ranked fourth nationally in tie down roping after winning the short round finals.
A Columbia, Tennessee, native, Thrasher also advanced to the finals in tie down roping in 2019, placing 11th in the event. He ranked second in the Ozark Region (seventh nationally) in tie down roping in 2020, punching his ticket to the national championship event before it was cancelled. He completed his collegiate career at the 73rd annual CNFR in 2021, competing in both tie down roping and team roping events.
“I am honored and humbled to accept the head rodeo coaching position at UT Martin,” Thrasher said. “Thank you to Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver, athletic director Kurt McGuffin and of course, head coach John Luthi for having the confidence in me to lead such a storied program. My alma mater is a special place, and I cannot wait to get started.”
In addition to his National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association success, Thrasher is a four-time International Professional Rodeo Association Finals qualifier and a four-time Lonestar Rodeo Association qualifier – winning the year-end calf roping championship three times on that circuit.
“Chase has made a huge impact in our program as an assistant this season,” Luthi said. “He was a great student-athlete for us, and I know he will continue to make a difference when he takes over as head coach. I fully endorsed Chase as a candidate for this job – his passion and enthusiasm for not only our program but for UT Martin is unmatched.”
Thrasher graduated from UT Martin with a degree in farm and ranch management in 2021.