Eric Ward hugs Susan Johnson after the Mid-South Conference Tournament this year in Frankfort. Photo by Richard Davis
For the past 10 years, Georgetown College athletics has been under the leadership of Athletics Director Eric Ward. This morning Ward announced to the Tiger coaches and staff that he had made the decision to leave at the end of June.
"It is with mixed emotions that I announce my intention to step down as Athletics Director effective June 30, 2011," Ward said. "It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Georgetown College for the past 10 years, primarily due to the outstanding coaches, faculty and staff I have had the opportunity to serve alongside. I have made many lasting friendships and have had great experiences that will last a lifetime."
In his decade of leadership, the athletic department has seen considerable change. He worked to create full-time coaching positions for softball, men's and women's tennis, men's soccer, women's soccer, baseball and volleyball, while placing an emphasis on equity across all programs. In 2003, there were four administrative positions in the Athletics Department that were eliminated as part of cost cutting measures. The sports information director and an assistant athletics director position have since been restored. There have also been facility improvements during Ward's tenure as AD. Lights were added to the baseball, soccer and softball fields, and a field house was built for the soccer teams that include locker rooms, concessions and restrooms.
"When I walk away from here on June 30, I have a lot to be proud of," Ward said. "Lots of part-time positions are now full-time. I can be proud of the way things were done, what was done and the relationships I have formed while here.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Georgetown College for the past 10 years. I have made many lasting friendships and have had great experiences that will last a lifetime."
"I want to thank Eric," said Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students Todd Gambill. "For 10 years he has invested an awful lot of himself into the Georgetown athletics program and student athletes that have been here during that time. He has taken great pride in his work and in his programs. His entrepreneurialism and advocacy have been instrumental in much of the success we have experienced in GC athletics over the past decade."
Ward has also been instrumental in the implementation of the NAIA's Champions of Character program, which places importance on respect, responsibility, servant leadership, integrity and sportsmanship inside athletics. Most recently, he has even been actively researching the effects of the sports environment on the ethical and moral reasoning of student-athletes. He established Georgetown College as an NAIA Program Center for Champions of Character in 2005 and currently serves on the NAIA initiative's National Faculty.
"I would like to believe that I have made some lasting contributions to the culture of our campus community over the past 10 years," Ward said. "I assure you that Georgetown College has certainly impacted me in many positive ways. I look forward to spending the next six weeks celebrating and remembering the good works we have accomplished together."
Ward will stay on to help steer the Tigers until June 30, when Brian Evans will assume the day-to-day responsibilities of the job on an interim basis. Ward will be working with Evans to make sure the transition is a smooth one.
"It is my intention to aggressively pursue other career opportunities that will allow me to continue to develop my professional skills, abilities and interests, and hopefully allow me to spend more time with my wonderfully supportive wife, Missy," Ward said. "I have a step-son, Hunter, who will be a senior at Georgetown College next year and my daughter, Katy, will be a freshman in the fall. Obviously, Georgetown College will still be a big part of our family.
"When I made the announcement to the staff this morning and I looked around the room, I quickly realized what my most significant contribution has been over the past 10 years. I was responsible for hiring everyone in the room except for Happy Osborne, Bill Cronin and Susan Johnson. Bill, Happy and Susan are the rocks that the department is built on, but I was responsible for bringing the rest of the current group of coaches on board, and I couldn't be leaving the future of Tiger Athletics in better hands."