October 19, 2018

Webster University signs a new athletic director

Four months ago, Webster University began its search for a new athletic director. Now at the close of the semester, the new hire will be revealed this week.

Ralph Olliges, associate professor and chair on the athletic director search committee, announced that a contract has been signed and a candidate hired.

While Olliges would not comment on who was chosen to fill the position, the search was narrowed down last month to four candidates: Scott Kilgallon, Joe Hakes, Sarah Pestler and Rick Goeb.

While the search committee and school officials will have the final say about who is hired, students and athletes at Webster gave input during the selection process and voiced their opinions on what qualities they would like to see in the new athletic director.
Junior volleyball player Allie O’Toole said she thinks the new athletic director should develop great communication with the athletes and coaches. She also said they should have more of an interest in athletes’ academics as well.

“I think that it’s important to have an athletic director who has good communication with student athletes and coaches. It gives coaches and athletes reassurance that their thoughts and concerns will be taken seriously,” O’Toole said. “It’s important to have an athletic director who somehow recognizes athletes for their athletic abilities, but also for what they do in the classroom as well.”

Junior Carlton Poindexter plays tennis, soccer and is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), which is comprised of student-athletes who assemble to provide insight on the student-athlete experience.

Poindexter and other members from SAAC were able to sit in on every interview of the candidates who applied for the position. While he would not comment on who he favored for the position, he expressed what he wanted to see in the new athletic director.

“A person with a business mindset could really help the athletic department and university,” Poindexter said. “A person who could help generate more opportunities for funding would be most beneficial.”

In 2013, Webster Head Women’s Volleyball Coach Merry Graf was named interim athletic director after Former Athletic Director Tom Hart left for the same position at Berry College in Georgia.

In a previous interview with The Journal, Graf said whomever the committee hires for the position will have a great starting point.
“The next athletic director will be coming into a great situation in Webster’s athletics department,” Graf said.

According to SLIAC.org, from 1990 to 2013, Webster University athletics have been second in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) in most conference championships with 54. Principia College is first with 57 championships.

For the ninth consecutive year, and the 13th time since the award was established in 1999, Webster achieved the SLIAC All-Sports Trophy following the conclusion of the 2013 sports season. The Gorloks achieved 87.5 points in 12 sports, just beating runner-up, Westminster College.

The SLIAC All-Sports Championship Trophy awards points based on each school’s finish in the conference’s 12 sports. Teams earn nine points for a first-place finish, eight points for a second-place finish, seven for third-place finish and so on.

Junior men’s soccer player Jeff Wallner said Webster needs an athletic director who wants to make a difference in the way the university looks at athletics.

“We need someone to change the aura surrounding Webster athletics. The coaches and athletes are committed; we need the school to be the same,” Wallner said. “Webster is a good school with dedicated student athletes. A strong athletic director with a strong voice to represent the rest of the athletic department is just what we need.”

The search committee is comprised of school officials and members of the Webster athletic department, along with several student groups. Each person who met with the candidates filled out an evaluation sheet for each candidate. The search committee used those evaluations to establish a list of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

Junior political science major Javier Cardenas said as a non-athlete, he believes there’s a lack of connection between the athletics and the non-athlete student body at Webster University.

“We need a director that will promote student awareness for teams. You don’t see a lot of the non-athlete students at sporting events,” Cardenas said. “I feel like if I weren’t friends with the athletes, then I wouldn’t be aware of the sports teams.”

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