Letter from Ross Bjork

6 08 2010

Western Kentucky athletic director Ross Bjork sent out an athletic department-wide update to the entire staff today.

He also released it to select members of the media.

And since it ended up in my inbox, I figured I’d share it with all of you:

Dear members of the WKU Athletics Staff and Coaches,

Greetings!  It has truly been a pleasure working with each one of you during my first 103 days here at WKU.  As I have stated numerous times, we have a tremendous and dedicated staff and I sincerely appreciate all of your hard work on behalf of WKU and Intercollegiate Athletics.  I hope all of you have been able to recharge your body, mind, and spirit by spending quality time with friends and family this summer.  Now that August has arrived, we quickly approach the start of our fall sports seasons and we will be seeing more of our student-athletes in the coming days and weeks ahead.  I know you share my excitement and anticipation for 2010-11 and our continuance of the Championship Effort required for us to exceed our past academic and athletic accomplishments.

As we move into this time of year and the end of my initial transition, I want to personally inform everyone of a few noteworthy changes since we completed 2009-10.  First, as you know, we have upgraded our head coaching positions for men’s and women’s golf to full time status.  WKU is in the heart of a tremendous golfing community, and our programs have the great potential to benefit from the outstanding courses and community resources in the area.  I am confident we will see improvement in both programs with the proper full time leadership.  Most importantly, our student-athletes deserve the best program possible.  Pam Herriford is chairing the committee leading a national search to identify and hire the best candidates.  We anticipate having both positions filled near the start of the upcoming fall semester.

A lot has taken place during my first 3 months as we have been super active on campus, in the community, and out in the region – Spreading the Red, for WKU Athletics.   As I arrived at WKU, I felt it was extremely important that our mission and core values be clearly established for all of us to appreciate our true purpose and to crystallize that our beliefs should be centered within the University’s vision.  Therefore, I encourage you to view our new WKU Athletics Mission Statement and Core Values to take a look at how we will proceed forward.  As I told the Board of Regents last week, I believe in our resolve and commitment to our student-athletes and want to thank our administrative council (Pam Herriford, Craig Biggs, Todd Stewart, BJ Burton, Jim Clark, Darrell Horn, and Anita Madison) for crafting our new mission statement and core values.

On the administrative front, I believe our department’s efficiency and overall operation will be enhanced by creating the position of Senior Associate Athletic Director – a definitive “number two” person for athletics.  I have chosen Todd Stewart to serve in this capacity to work directly with me and our administrative council on advancing WKU athletics on a daily basis.  Todd is the ideal fit for this role, as he has a solid understanding and appreciation of WKU Athletics coupled with 23 years of significant and unique experiences at multiple levels.  In addition to working at WKU the last two years, he also served four years as an Associate Commissioner with the Sun Belt Conference office, has 15 years of experience in the National Football League working with the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns, and worked two years in the University of Tennessee’s athletic department.

As the athletic department’s Senior Associate AD, Todd will serve as the second in command for all aspects of athletics and our 19 sponsored sports.  He will assist me in strategic initiatives that advance the mission of Athletics, serve as a critical advisor for all important decisions for the department, and help formulate and implement the department’s communication strategy, vision, and philosophy.  He will also assist me in the day to day management of football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball and will oversee all aspects of scheduling for football, basketball, and other sports as needed.  Todd will work in a strategic fashion with all External Relations including Ticket Sales, Development, IMG, and Marketing to create specific plans for revenue growth and new forms of communication and outreach.  He will continue to oversee all components of communications and media relations.  In addition to Todd’s new role, we are excited about the promotion of Michael Schroeder and the addition of Melissa Anderson to our media relations staff.

On the development front, we have hired Brandon Spurlock as our Assistant Director of the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation.  Brandon, who holds his BA from WKU, previously worked at WKU as a student manager with football and a student assistant with HAF in 2007. He will report to Jim Clark and be responsible for coordinating our Annual Fund Operations to recruit new members, renew current members, and ensure donor benefits are fulfilled.  Brandon will also help grow our Active Donor Portfolio, oversee special events for the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation, and assist in the management of the Diddle Arena Luxury Suites and the Topper Club at Houchens-Smith Stadium.  Brandon worked the previous two years as a Development Assistant at the University of Tennessee.

Matt Morrison, who has served as our Assistant Ticket Manager since October of 2008, has been promoted to Ticket Manager.  He will now be responsible for the management of all phases of ticket operations including ordering and distribution along with processing season and individual game ticket orders for football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer and softball.  He will also supervise the ticket office staff in processing both on site and mail orders and coordinate with HAF on all reseating and special projects.

In order to be more proactive with our ticket sales efforts, we have created the position of Ticket Sales Coordinator and hired John Patterson.  He will report to Craig Biggs and be responsible for generating a new season ticket base, single game sales, and group ticket sales to all constituents of WKU athletics including database list generation and subsequent communication via cold calls, direct mail and other activities.  He will also help maintain the Ticketmaster computerized ticketing system and ticket sales records and assist the Marketing Department with the planning, coordinating, and implementation of the marketing strategies for ticket sales, special promotions, and sponsorships.  John previously worked at Vanderbilt University as an Athletic Ticket Office Associate, Marshall University, and was a football student-athlete at the University of Memphis.

There are numerous other coaching and staff hires that have also been completed this summer and we will announce all of the new employees at our August full staff meeting on August 31st at 8:00am.  I am excited and confident in our new administrative set up and the addition of our new employees as they begin their duties on the Hill.

As you have heard me state before, if we only maintain, we fall behind.  Therefore, change is a consistent component of collegiate athletics and the announcements today will create greater opportunities for all of our staff and mainly our student-athletes, who we serve each and every day.  Continue to look for more exciting movement as we continue down the path.  I cannot wait until we kick off, get on the pitch, and spike the ball in Diddle Arena in the coming weeks.  Let’s have a great 2010-11 and I look forward to seeing and talking to all of you soon.  As Willie Taggart says: ‘Let’s all Chase Greatness and Catch Excellence in the Process!”

Cheers to you,

Ross

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