Lawrence to add permanent athletic director position-jcr -dlh

Andy York

This past week, Dean of the Faculty Kathy Murray sent an e-mail and a press release out to students, faculty, staff and the general public, stating that Lawrence is in the process of looking to hire a permanent athletic director. Currently the athletic director is Kim Tatro, the head softball coach, and her assistant athletic director is John Tharp, men’s basketball coach.
The switching over from coaches possessing the athletic director position to a new full-time staff member is due to a review of the athletic department’s budgeting and acting procedures. Murray is quoted in the release stating, “It has become apparent that we need a full-time administrator, an individual who is not tied to any coaching responsibilities, to provide strong leadership for this department with which more than 30 percent of our students are involved.”
The funding for the new full-time administrator is newly found due to some reconfiguring of the athletics department. The move toward a full-time athletic director is one that is becoming increasing popular at the Division III level. Five of the other nine schools in the Midwest Conference have an athletic director who is not a coach at the college or university, and in the WIAC, the conference that has all the University of Wisconsin schools in it, only UW-River Falls does not have a full time athletic director.
The timing of the announcement comes as Murray and President Beck are beginning an extensive look at the athletic department, and are looking to attempt to trim its budget. According to the United States Department of Post-Secondary Education, the athletic department budget for Lawrence in 2003-04 was a whopping $1,063,195.
There is an immediate nationwide search underway for the new athletic director, who will attempt to aid in the budget cutting procedure. The committee who will be selecting the new athletic director is the faculty and student members of the Committee on Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics. Currently the only student member on that committee which is appointed by LUCC is Sara Compas. Members of the athletics staff will also be in on the selection committee.
Lawrence has one of the most diverse athletics programs in the state. While there are many schools similar, and much larger in size than Lawrence, LU has the second largest athletics department behind the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Madison has 25 intercollegiate athletic teams, while Lawrence is a close second with 23. The athletic teams compete in a wide variety of conferences as well.
Most Lawrence athletic teams compete in the Midwest Conference, made up of teams from Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. The hockey team competes in the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association, and has teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The wrestling team competes in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, comprised of University of Wisconsin State schools. Add this together along with a rich history of competing against former Midwest Conference rivals such as Carleton and St. Olaf in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Coe and Central in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and Lawrence is one of the most recognized programs in the Midwest.
The search should be concluded, and the new full-time athletic director should be named by the end of second term. Tatro and Tharp will continue on leading two very strong Lawrence athletics programs, as they are still head coaches after their athletic director and assistant athletic director appointments are up.