ERIE, Pa. - Gannon University has announced that Mark Richard, Gannon University's director of athletics for the past five years, will leave the University next month to become athletics director at the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Ala.
University officials said that a decision will be made soon about the appointment of an interim director of athletics, and as the search for Richard's successor begins.
Gannon athletics has excelled under Richard's leadership, finishing among the top 20 percent of the nation's NCAA Division II athletics programs in the final 2012-13 NCAA Division II Learfield Sports Directors' Cup Standings. This year, the Golden Knights placed 92nd, finishing among the top 32 percent of NCAA Division II programs.
The department produced the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference's top women's program in 2012-13 according to the final Dixon Trophy standings. For the 2013-14 campaign, Gannon's women's programs finished third among PSAC schools, while eight Gannon programs qualified for the NCAA Division II postseason. The women's golf team won its second PSAC championship during the last three years. The department also featured an individual PSAC swimming champion and two national championships in acrobatics and tumbling heats.
Academically, Gannon student-athletes have blossomed during the last five years. Gannon's 414 student-athletes ended the 2013-14 academic year with a combined 3.21 cumulative grade point average. The 11 women's programs owned a combined 3.35 cumulative GPA while the nine men's programs have a 3.06 cumulative GPA.
Twenty-five Gannon student-athletes have earned academic All-America status during the last two years. The staggering number includes 10 Gannon student-athletes who were named Capital One Academic All-Americans in 2012-13, representing the highest total in NCAA Division II. Individual academic awards during the last two years included three PSAC Champion Scholars, seven PSAC Top 10 Award winners and 26 Capital One Academic All-District selections. The entire student-athlete population also combined to work over 6,400 hours of community service during the last two academic years, including 3,458 hours in 2013-14.
Richard returns to Alabama to take over a University of Montevallo athletic program that fields 13 NCAA Division II athletic teams that compete in the Peach Belt Conference.
Richard has administration experience at five NCAA Division I institutions. The Meadville, Pa., native and former PSAC student-athlete came to Gannon after spending the previous 10 years at NCAA Division I Auburn University of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), including the final four years as the senior associate director of athletics for team support. He was an integral part of the leadership and strategic planning group.
Prior to his time at Auburn, Richard served as the assistant director of athletics for compliance at SEC-member Vanderbilt University (1997-99) and the director of NCAA compliance and student services at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (1995-97), where he implemented a continuing NCAA Compliance Education Program and the CHAMPS program. He began his stay at UNLV as the coordinator of game operations (1993-95), where he also served as the director of bowl game operations for the Las Vegas Bowl.
Richard began his administrative career at the University of Florida (1988-90), before moving to North Carolina State University to become the director of student-athlete services (1990-93).
"My time at Gannon University has been a fulfilling part of my career," Richard said. "Having the opportunity to work with great student-athletes and dedicated coaches and staff has been an opportunity that I will never forget. Without a doubt, the Gannon fans are some of the most devoted in the country.
"I also would like to thank President Taylor for giving me the opportunity and having the confidence in me to lead this department. It has been a great experience and I will deeply miss the Gannon family and community."
Gannon University President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., said, "Golden Knights fans will look back on Mark Richard's time here with a great deal of fond memories and justifiable pride. His energy, passion for winning and his concern for student-athletes helped to make Gannon a recognized leader in NCAA Division II athletics, and we are grateful for his contributions these past five years."
Richard graduated from PSAC member Clarion University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He was a two-sport athlete at Clarion, lettering four times in football (1979-82) and playing one season (1980) for the baseball team. Richard earned his Master's of Exercise and Sport Sciences with a sports management emphasis from the University of Florida in 1989. He has three daughters, Mackenzie Margaret (13), Hope Elliott (6) and Nicole Rene (6).
Richard's Gannon Accomplishments
- Five years at Gannon (May 2009 until June 2014)
- Highest Learfield Sports Directors' Cup finish in school history (2012-13 | 60th)
- Placed among top 32 percent of NCAA Division II schools in Learfield Sports Directors' Cup last two years
- Top PSAC women's athletics program in 2012-13; third in 2013-14
- 87 conference player of the week awards, 115 all-conference postseason selections, 50 all-region honors and 21 All-Americans during the last two years
- 3.21 cumulative grade point average for department's 414 student-athletes during Spring of 2014
- 10 Gannon student-athletes named Capital One Academic All-Americans in 2012-13, representing the highest total in NCAA Division II
- Most PSAC Top Team GPA awards since the conference created the award in 2011-12
- 6,400 hours of community service performed by Gannon student-athletes during the last two academic years
- A school-record 182 Gannon student-athletes were named 2012-13 PSAC Scholar-Athletes. As a result, Gannon produced the highest percentage of student-athletes named PSAC scholar-athletes among the league's 16 schools for the fourth time in a five-year span.
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