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When radio personality Paul Finebaum introduced Mal Moore to a group of Alabama fans back in January, he said that Moore will forever be remembered as the man who hired football coach Nick Saban.
As legacies go, that’s not a bad one. Whenever he heard it, which was fairly often the last few years, Moore would grin from ear and ear.
Moore worked as Alabama's athletic director from 1999 until his death in March of this year.
Photo by:University of Alabama
Moore would be the first one to say, “Aw, hell, I’m not an administrator. I’m just an old football coach.” But in 14 years as Alabama’s athletic director, Moore established one of the nation’s best all-around athletic departments, capped off by four national championships in his last year on the job.
“Mal was the quintessential Southern gentleman,” said Robert Witt, chancellor of the University of Alabama system. “He was the face of athletics, and as a visionary, he was unmatched. He was the guy years ago who looked over the horizon and saw what was possible for Alabama at a time when things weren’t going very well.”
Moore, 73, died on March 30 from a pulmonary condition. The night before, in a Duke University hospital room, his daughter told Moore that he was a finalist for SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily’s Athletic Director of the Year award. He smiled just for a moment.
His hardened lungs failed the next day, and Moore died before a lung transplant was possible. He was named Athletic Director of the Year on May 22 at the Sports Business Awards.
It’s been nearly 2 1/2 months since Moore died, and his family and friends are still deeply grieving.
“It’s still a shock, the way everything happened so fast,” his daughter, Heather Cook, said. “I still can’t believe it. I wasn’t ready for him to go. He wasn’t ready to go, either.”
As his health rapidly deteriorated, Moore in his final days told his daughter: “I’d just like a few years to walk around and whistle.”
Getting the Tide rolling again
The six men — Moore and five extremely well-heeled Alabama boosters — gathered in what was left of Bryant Hall. The year was 2002 and Bryant Hall, the old athletic dorm that used to house so many Alabama football legends, had not been in use for 15 years.
In many ways, Bryant Hall was symbolic for what had happened to Crimson Tide athletics. It was once a shrine to the greatness forged by Bear Bryant, Moore’s old football coach, but over the years fell into disrepair.
Like Bryant Hall, Alabama athletics were struggling, too. The football program was starting a five-year probation term
Moore holds a news conference in 2007 to introduce Nick Saban as Alabama’s head football coach.
Photo by:Enter Name Here
As Moore and the boosters sat in a semi-circle inside the weathered and mildewed Bryant Hall, it began to rain. Water seeped through the ceiling and dripped on the heads of the boosters. Moore was powerful, but even he couldn’t have predicted such a perfect scenario in which to ask for their help.
It was under those conditions that Moore announced to the high-ranking friends of Alabama athletics that he was starting a fundraising campaign to raise $50 million. He asked them to be the founding members of what he would call the Crimson Tradition committee if they would give $500,000 apiece to go toward improving facilities. All they had to do was look around to see how badly Alabama athletics needed an update.
Each one of them, including Paul Bryant Jr., son of the Bear, committed on the spot.
“If he wanted to get their attention, that was a great way to do it,” said Ronny Robertson, Alabama’s senior associate AD for development. “The funny thing is that Mal would be the first one to say that he didn’t know a thing about fundraising. But you know what, on his first visit to go see an alumnus, he got a gift for $250,000. It blew his mind. He went to 32 people before anybody ever turned him down.”
That meeting with five donors in dilapidated Bryant Hall was the start of Alabama’s first capital campaign in 2002. Moore set a goal of raising $50 million and he was going to borrow $50 million more, giving him $100 million to go to work on Alabama’s facilities.
Andrew Sorensen, Alabama’s president at the time, told Moore not to do it. Football was in bad shape, the program was on probation, and the climate simply wasn’t favorable to ask for money. Moore was told that the boosters didn’t want to hear from the athletic department at the time.
“But Mal wasn’t about struggling and he wasn’t about compromising,” Witt said. “When Mal went to work, it was something to watch.”
“He went to President Sorensen and said, ‘Give me a chance to raise the money. I can do it,’” Cook said. “He wanted the table set for Alabama once football came off probation [in 2007]. He said that when that day comes, it’ll be like horses running out of the stable. Nothing will stop us.”
From backup QB to calling the plays
During those five years from 2002 to 2007, when Alabama was both on probation and running a capital campaign, Moore exceeded his goal and raised $70 million. That, with the $50 million that was borrowed, gave him $120 million to breathe new energy into the Tide’s tired, old facilities.
Moore's passion for Alabama led him to stay at the school even though he would only be in a backup role on the football team. Moore (left, No. 15) is shown with fellow quarterbacks Jack Hurlbut and Pat Trammell, as well as legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Moore would later coach at Alabama, where (below) he stands opposite Bryant to map out strategy with the coaching staff.
Photo by:University of Alabama (2)
He grew up in tiny Dozier, Ala., a town of fewer than 500 people south of Montgomery. Until he was 9, Moore lived on a farm with his parents and six brothers and sisters.
His parents were both sports fans and, in fact, his mother named him Mal after a player on the Blue roster from the annual Blue-Gray all-star football game in Montgomery. He was the only son without a family first name.
Moore, like his older brothers, worked in the family’s sawmill business as he grew up. The cross-ties they cut were shipped to Europe after World War II so that rail companies could begin rebuilding. Mal usually worked on a two-man crew that cut the timber with a cross-cut saw.
He was a standout athlete at Dozier High, which wasn’t saying a whole lot for a school with 20 boys in the graduating class. But Mal was good enough at quarterback to earn a look from Bear Bryant.
After a season with the Tide, it became apparent that Pat Trammell was going to beat out Moore for the starting quarterback job. Bryant called Moore into his office and said that he’d help him transfer to another school where he could get more playing time. But Moore shocked the old coach by deciding to stay and be a backup because Alabama was where he wanted to go to school.
“You’ll never find anyone who loved the University of Alabama more than Mal,” said his older brother, Frank Moore, and any number of his friends for that matter. “He ended up backing up two All-Americans, Pat Trammell and Joe Namath. That’s not too bad.”
After deciding to get into coaching after college, Moore made his way back to Alabama as Bryant’s offensive coordinator in the 1970s, and later as an assistant under Gene Stallings in the 1990s.
In 1994, with his wife, Charlotte, ailing from the early onset of Alzheimer’s in her early 50s, Moore sought a job in Alabama’s athletic department so he could spend more time with her. He first took a job as an associate athletic director, eventually working his way to AD in 1999.
“My mother had begun to regress pretty fast and Daddy left coaching so he could be at home more,” Cook said. “All he ever wanted was to be the head coach at Alabama, but what he did for my mother — getting out of coaching — shows his true character. He walked away from the only career he’d ever known at age 52.”
Moore joked with his staff that he didn’t know the first thing about fundraising, which is one of an AD’s most important duties.
During one dinner at an influential doctor’s home in Georgia, the host implored Moore to try some of the caviar he had bought just for that occasion.
“I bought that for you, Mal, you’ve got to try some,” the doctor said over and over.
Finally, Moore took the serving knife, put a heap of caviar on it, and put it in his mouth, licking every last bite off the knife.
“The doctor, laughing, came over and said, ‘Mal, you’re supposed to put it on a cracker.’”
A link to the Bear
There was something about Moore’s down home charm that made him a perfect fit at Alabama. For one, he was one of the few lasting connections to the days of Bear Bryant, and Alabama fans reveled in hearing stories about the Bear. The legendary coach could be as tough as they came, but he always had a soft spot for Moore.
As Bryant lay dying, some of his final words to his son, Paul Jr., were, “Take care of Alabama football, and take care of Mal.”
Telling those old Alabama football stories was part of Moore’s charm.
“He had this really sincere nature,” said James “Goat” Hollis, a banker in Brantley, Ala., who was a childhood friend of
Moore (left) was an avid hunter. Here he poses with Bill Battle, who would later follow him as AD, and Alex Jones, an Alabama alum and owner of the Cadwallader Place hunting camp.
Photo by:University of Alabama
During an afternoon game at Ole Miss, Bryant kept urging Moore, the offensive coordinator, to attempt a pass, despite bad field position. Moore resisted and resisted, until Bryant finally barked, “Mal, throw the damn ball. It’s going to be dark soon.”
During another game, Bryant was calling for a reverse, but Moore didn’t like the situation. Finally, as the Tide moved into better field position, Moore called the reverse and the Alabama ball carrier was dropped for a big loss.
“Mal, dammit, I meant run it the other way,” Bryant yelled.
In 1970, as the Tide changed its offense to the wishbone, Bryant announced at a staff meeting that the team would sink or swim with this new formation. As Moore walked the halls of the football office in subsequent days, other assistant coaches would make “gurgling” sounds as they walked by.
Such stories served Moore and the athletic department well. During his tenure as AD from 1999-2013, Moore raised close to $160 million in donations to the athletic department, the school said, and borrowed about $90 million more, to make $250 million in facility improvements. Bryant Hall, the setting for that initial fundraising meeting with the leaky ceiling, received a transformation into an academic center. The baseball stadium and the swimming complex were the only ones that didn’t undergo a full renovation during Moore’s run, and both are at the top of the priority list.
“When you think of all the things accomplished during that time — the football stadium, weight room, all the facilities — that’s Mal,” said Angus Cooper, a quail-hunting buddy from Mobile who served on Alabama’s board for 15 years. “He had the vision for where he wanted to go, and the truth is that, without those facilities he built, we never would have gotten Nick Saban. Nothing meant more to Mal than making the University of Alabama the best it could be.”
A few years ago, the main athletic office was renamed the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility.
“When the board decided to name the building after Mal, he cried,” Cooper said. “It meant the world to him.”
“It’s been a few months now since Daddy passed, and people are still going to see the gravesite,” Cook said. “That’s the kind of impact he had on people.”
Despite all of Moore’s accomplishments through 50 years at Alabama, his daughter remembers the little things he did for people.
Moore always walked around with a few extra football tickets in his pocket, looking to give them to a father and his son. He cherished their reaction when he gave them the tickets and said, “Go enjoy the game.”
He also staunchly protected “A Day,” Alabama’s spring football game, by pledging to never charge admission. That was a day when those who couldn’t afford tickets could go watch the Crimson Tide, he would say.
Then there was the time a freshman student at Alabama, who grew up near Moore’s hometown of Dozier, was so homesick that she thought about leaving school and going back home.
Through some friends back home, Moore learned about the girl and offered her a part-time job in the athletics office. Each day he walked past her desk, Moore would smile and say, “Give me a hug.” That personal touch helped the girl make it through her freshman year and eventually graduate.
Moore knew just how she felt. He went through many of the same pains as a young freshman playing for Bear Bryant.
“Back then, there was something like 85 people that signed in Coach Bryant’s first class, and only about 15 or so survived,” said Frank Moore, Mal’s brother. “Mal tried to come home two or three times. He called Daddy and said he was ready to throw in the towel. But all he’d hear on the other end of the line was breathing.”
The point is that Mal Moore never forgot where he came from, or what it was like to be a homesick kid in a new place.
It was around the time of the BCS championship game in early January that his friends noticed that Moore was slowing down and breathing heavily.
Cooper chided Moore for riding around Alabama’s football practice in a golf cart, something he didn’t normally do. “I told him, ‘You must be getting old,’” Cooper said. “I know there was one time back in the fall we were supposed to go hunting and he didn’t want to go because he felt bad. I heard him coughing a lot, but none of us knew how serious it was.
“What will always stand out to me is that after Alabama won the national championship, he went back to his hotel room. That just wasn’t like him.”
Slowing down just wasn’t in Moore, until his health declined earlier this year. He and Frank had talked often about retirement, but spending all of his time playing golf and hunting, as much as he loved it, just wasn’t what Mal wanted to do full time.
“What most people don’t know is that Mal had some tests for pulmonary problems three years ago,” Frank Moore said. “At that time, the doctor told Mal that he’d need a lung transplant in three to 10 years. Mal was focused on the 10, not the three. But, hell, Alabama was all that Mal had ever done.”
By the time Moore was admitted to the Duke University hospital in mid-March, he was in dire need of the lung transplant. He lasted only a few weeks before his lungs gave out.
“We weren’t ready for this,” said Frank Moore, 79. “We weren’t ready to give him up. I was expecting him to bury me, not the other way around. … I’m so proud of him. He was a hell of a man.”
Last week, Alabama’s men’s golf team closed out Illinois to win the NCAA championship, something it missed by just a shot last year. Moore’s daughter couldn’t help but think about how disappointed he was last year when the team came up just short, and how happy he would have been with this title.
“My father would have been on top of the world today,” Heather Cook wrote in a text message shortly after the Crimson Tide’s golf championship. “If bragging is allowed in heaven, Daddy’s doing it with a grin from ear to ear. Roll Tide!”
Memories of Mal
“He will go down in the annals of the University of Alabama football program as truly one of the seminal figures that’s ever been. You hear this line sometimes and it’s perceived as a cliché — but if there was a Mount Rushmore for Alabama football, I really think Coach Moore would be right next to Coach Bryant. I think he was that important.”
— Paul Finebaum, ESPN radio personality and longtime Birmingham radio host
“Mal was on a hunting trip with a couple of trustees when I called him once. He looked at his phone and saw that it was me, so he told everybody to be quiet while he took the call. As soon as we connected, one of the trustees started firing shots in the background. Mal accused the guy of trying to get him fired.”
— Robert Witt, chancellor, University of Alabama system
“Mal played behind Pat Trammell and Joe Namath, two of the all-time great quarterbacks at Alabama. He was often asked, ‘Mal, why don’t you just go to school’ and he’d say no sir, he’s going to stick it out. Well, he stuck it out for 50 years.”
— Alabama AD Bill Battle
“Every Saturday, Mal’s dad would listen to the Alabama game on the radio and, of course, Mal would never play a down. But his dad would meet up with his buddies in Dozier and say, ‘Mal and them won another one.’”
— Longtime friend James “Goat” Hollis, a banker in Brantley, Ala.
“Mal’s legacy at Alabama is both a physical legacy and an emotional legacy. Physical is what he did for the facilities here. Emotional was just the foresight and the passion Mal had for the university.”
— Ronny Robertson, Alabama’s senior associate AD for development and a former player under Bear Bryant
“Mal always had an open-door policy and one of the things that really impressed me is that he always had time for you. It didn’t matter if you were the No. 2 person in the department or last on the totem pole, he would make time for you.”
— Shane Lyons, Alabama’s deputy AD
“Coach Moore shepherded Alabama football through some dark days. He always took the approach that he was the caretaker of the program.”
— Phil Savage, color commentator for Alabama radio broadcasts and president of the Senior Bowl
“Football was his heart, but he worried about how we were going to get baseball better and how the other sports were doing. It was a real point of pride that Alabama ranked second in the SEC in graduation behind Vanderbilt. That was important to him.”
— Angus Cooper, former Alabama trustee and one of Moore’s longtime friends
Bill Battle, who succeeded Mal Moore as Alabama AD, recently spoke with SportsBusiness Journal college writer Michael Smith about the work ahead.
■ On facility projects: We’ve got a few things on the front burner. One is the baseball stadium. It’s a pretty good-looking stadium, but we’ve dropped to the lower half of the conference if you look around. We’re considering a renovation of the stadium in its current location or building a new one. We’re leaning toward a renovation. In the next few years, we’ve got plans for a nicer rowing facility as well.
Battle said he’s looking at ways to improve the game-day experience, including tackling lingering issues with parking.
Photo by:USA Today Sports
■ On his first two months on the job: I’m learning our staff, and seeing how we’re organized, what we do well, what we don’t do well. I’m making sure that our staff has the resources they need to attract athletes at the highest levels. We’re looking at our game-day experience, and if there are certain technologies that help the fan experience. For schools with stadiums at 100,000-plus around the country, it’s getting harder and harder to fill them up. The product on the field is the first thing, but we’ve got to look at making sure it’s a pleasant experience getting there. Parking is a huge problem. I probably hear from negative comments about parking (more) than anything else. We have to look at every way we can eliminate the hassle factor.
■ On the potential for new revenue: In some ways we’re out of things to sell, so that’s something we have to look at. We’re trying to explore all of the opportunities out there, whether that’s through traditional fundraising or better marketing.
■ On his background as CEO of Collegiate Licensing Co.: Hopefully, the experience I’ve gained in building a company and providing good customer service will have applications at Alabama. That’s leading, recruiting good people. … You know, I don’t see a lot that’s broken, but we will look to see if there are any organizational changes that make sense. But I wouldn’t say it’s going to be anything major.
The following are winners of the 2013 Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year award, presented by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. NACDA will honor each of the executives this week at the organization’s annual convention in Orlando. After reviewing the program, NACDA decided this year to eliminate regions and simply recognize the top four ADs in each of the seven divisions. The international region was eliminated as well, leaving 28 ADs overall who won the award.
Football Bowl Subdivision
Northern Illinois University
Compher led the Huskies for five years and guided the program to athletic and academic success. The Huskies became the first Mid-American Conference team to play in a BCS bowl game, and the school posted its highest graduation success rate. Compher oversaw the construction of the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center, which will be used by all 17 sports when it opens this fall. In May, Compher began a new job as AD at East Carolina University.
Kansas State University
Since Currie’s introduction as Kansas State’s AD in May 2009, the athletic program has gone from a budget deficit to financial solvency, initiated $100 million in facility improvements and launched K-StateHD.TV, a premium digital network. Currie has overhauled Kansas State’s marketing and fundraising efforts, resulting in a doubling of annual cash giving since his arrival. His first marquee coaching hire, Bruce Weber, led the Wildcats to their first men’s basketball conference title in 36 years.
University of Arkansas
Now in his sixth year at Arkansas, Long has revitalized the tradition-rich program. He guided the Razorbacks to a record breaking fundraising year and launched the first four projects of the school’s facilities master plan. In 2012, Arkansas broke ground on a $40 million football center, and gained approval for a student-athlete academic and dining facility, a new basketball practice facility, and a baseball and indoor track training facility.
White joined Duke in 2008 and since then the Blue Devils have won four NCAA championships — women’s tennis in 2009, men’s basketball in 2010 and men’s lacrosse in 2010 and 2013. Several facility projects were completed in the past year, including Pascal Field House (the school’s new indoor football practice facility), the reconstruction of field hockey’s Williams Field, renovations to the golf course and upgrades to the soccer practice fields.
Football Championship Subdivision
Eastern Washington University
Chaves arrived at Eastern Washington in 2007. His tenure has been punctuated by the installation of the first red synthetic football surface, which was added in 2010. The football team went undefeated the first season on the new turf en route to the program’s first FCS national title. Chaves also has overseen projects such as new seating at Reese Court, a $1.5 million locker room update, and video board installations for both Roos Field and Reese Court.
McCutcheon is in his 12th year at the helm of Lafayette athletics. Early in his tenure, he spearheaded the creation of a facilities master plan, which resulted in a $23 million renovation of Fisher Stadium, the construction of a baseball stadium, the renovation of the soccer stadium, and the construction of a new softball stadium. The track and field program relocated to Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex where a new track opened for competition in 2009.
Southern Illinois University
Shortly after arriving on campus in 2006, Moccia drafted an $80 million facilities campaign featuring a new 15,000-seat football stadium, a total renovation of SIU Arena, and construction of a new office complex and team locker rooms. The department built a $4 million complex for its track and field program, and is starting a major renovation to the baseball stadium. The department signed a seven-figure multimedia rights agreement with Learfield Sports, and signed the school’s first all-school footwear and apparel deal with Under Armour.
Tennessee Technological University
Wilson arrived at Tennessee Technological in 2004 and since then has worked to improve both facilities and the academic performance of student athletes. Private fundraising contributed toward the construction of a 25,000-square-foot athletic performance center and new basketball offices. Wilson initiated a new branding and standard graphic identity program that boosted regional and national recognition of the school’s athletic program.
University of Maryland Baltimore County
With a 24-year tenure under his belt, Brown is retiring from the university’s athletic program but staying connected to the school. Under Brown’s leadership, the Retriever Activities Center was redeveloped and the outdoor aquatic complex, Retriever Soccer Park and a track and field complex were constructed. After retiring, Brown will join the school’s Division of Professional Studies, where he will help explore the feasibility of an undergraduate concentration in sports management.
University of North Carolina Asheville
Cone is in her ninth year as director of athletics at UNC Asheville. During her tenure, she oversaw the opening of the $42 million Wilma M. Sherrill Center and Kimmel Arena. She reinstated women’s swimming last year, marking the first time the athletic department had added a sport in 20 years.
Florida Gulf Coast University
Kavanagh is in his fourth year as AD at Florida Gulf Coast and is only the second full-time AD in school history. The school has won a combined 12 Atlantic Sun regular-season crowns, seven Atlantic Sun Tournament titles and four consecutive Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association championships. Last season, the “Dunk City” men’s basketball team made a celebrated Cinderella run to the Sweet 16.
University of Evansville
Since being appointed AD six years ago, Stanley has overseen construction of the Beeler Family Athletics Academic Center, which provides workspace and 24-hour computer access to all student athletes. He managed the building of two facilities to benefit the basketball teams, and led the effort to return the Missouri Valley Conference men’s and women’s soccer tournaments to Evansville.
Parker began her tenure at Rollins College in 2006. Academic success among student athletes includes three valedictorians in the last six years. On the competitive front, Parker oversaw the addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse, and the women’s team advanced to the Final Four in only its fifth year. Parker also oversaw the rebranding of the athletics website, logo, mascot and booster club.
Grand Valley State University
Selgo is in his 18th year as AD and has played a key role in the development of the school’s athletic facilities and programs, recently adding women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport. Lubbers Stadium began a three-phase renovation in 2011, and a new outdoor track and field/lacrosse stadium opened in the fall of 2011. The Kelly Family Sports Center, which opened in 2008, gives academic classes and athletic teams the opportunity to work inside during inclement weather.
Wiegandt is in his eighth year as Bellarmine’s AD. He has overseen several facility upgrades, including the construction of Owsley B. Frazier Stadium and the Eddie Weber Tennis Complex, as well as renovations to Knights Hall (basketball and volleyball arena) and Knights Field (baseball and softball). In the last three years, Bellarmine has hosted 12 NCAA Division II national championships, and the 2013 men’s basketball Elite Eight. In 2010-11, Bellarmine won the national championship in men’s basketball, the first national title in the school’s history.
University of Indianapolis
Willey is in her 10th year as AD and her 37th overall at Indianapolis. In September 2012, she was promoted to vice president for intercollegiate athletics. The department’s facilities have undergone major renovations under Willey’s watch, with the biggest upgrade completed early in 2011 — the new Athletics & Recreation Center. The indoor facility provides a competition track and space for sports teams, and fitness facilities for the campus community.
University of Southern Maine
Bean has been the university’s AD since 1993. Under his direction, Southern Maine has built a field house, an Olympic-sized ice arena and Hannaford Field, the school’s first synthetic turf playing surface. All of the school’s sports facilities have been renovated. Bean helped create the sport management major at the university, moved the coaching certificate program to a recognized academic minor, and is working with the university’s Lewiston-Auburn College to include a concentration in athletic coaching in its leadership and organizational studies master’s degree.
Western Connecticut State University
Farrington has led the school’s athletics since 1986, overseeing a department that includes 350 student athletes in 14 varsity sports. The Westside Athletic Complex is the latest addition to the athletic facilities on campus. Western added field hockey for the 2005 season, a year after adding men’s lacrosse as a varsity sport. Women’s lacrosse also was added under Farrington’s watch, as was women’s soccer and women’s swimming and diving.
University of Texas at Tyler
Patterson was hired in 2001 as the school’s first AD, charged with building the program from the ground up. By the spring of 2005, Patterson had implemented 13 sports and supervised the construction of facilities. He led the university to becoming a full member of the NCAA in 2007. During his career at the university, Patterson has served in other capacities, including dean of student affairs, assistant vice president for student affairs, and vice president for student affairs.
St. Lawrence University
Strait has worked in the school’s athletic department since 1970, coaching six different sports, including 17 years as the women’s tennis coach, eight years as the men’s tennis coach and the last 15 years as AD. Strait has added seven new teams to the Saints’ athletic program and has guided the process of renovating the school’s athletic facilities, including upgrades of Appleton Arena and Burkman Gym, a new artificial turf field, an outdoor track and football facility, a soccer stadium and new practice venues.
Wilson has been at the helm of Vanguard’s athletic department since 1995. In his stint as AD, the school has boasted 199 NAIA Scholar-Athletes, 149 NAIA All-Americans, 10 NAIA Teams of Character and 57 teams that competed in the NAIA national championships. In addition, the 2008 women’s basketball team won a national championship. The Lions are two-time Dr. Leroy Walker Award winners and two-time NAIA National Coach of Character winners.
Wayland Baptist University
Feris has been AD and a professor of exercise and sport science at Wayland since 1990, directing 13 head coaches, 27 assistant coaches and eight full-time athletics staff members. He has had supervision and oversight for adding 13 sports and increasing the number of student athletes by approximately 500 percent.
McCutchen has held the AD post for five years. During that time, he has overseen several facility improvements, most recently the completion of the Dan Kirkland Wells Baseball Field House, which includes a club house with offices, a locker room, a meeting room and laundry facilities. Freed-Hardeman has increased from seven to 11 sports during his tenure.
Schebler joined Ashford University in 1998. The school now has 17 intercollegiate programs, and the athletic department staff has grown from four full-time staffers to 40 full-time, part-time and volunteer staff members. Schebler recently transitioned Ashford into a new conference, joining the Association of Independent Institutions for 2012-13. The Saints have appeared in several NAIA national championships, highlighted most recently by the men’s and women’s soccer teams both reaching the round of 16 in 2012.
Junior College / Community College
Santa Rosa Junior College
Forkum has amassed a 44-year career as an instructor, professor, men’s basketball coach, academics and athletics administrator, college admissions director and speaker. The last six of those years have been spent as the dean of physical education and athletic director, where he oversees a sports program that fields 20 teams.
Gloucester County College
Case is in charge of a program that has won the National Alliance of Two Year College Athletic Administrators Cup Award in the non-scholarship division the past three years. Since 1991, the college has won 22 national championships in eight sports, and 57 teams have had top-three national finishes in that time period.
Hutchinson Community College
Stange has been Hutchinson’s AD for 16 years and earlier coached the men’s basketball team for three seasons. In 2004, he helped lead the effort for a public vote to renovate Gowans Stadium and helped secure the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015 National Junior College Athletic Association National Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Northampton Community College
In five years, Tucker has overseen the Spartans program as it became a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association, launched nccspartans.com and renovated several facilities, including a new softball complex. Since joining the NJCAA, each of Northampton’s teams has advanced to at least its Regional Final Four.