Van De Velde named athletic director

Jeremy Gustafson

The search to replace Gene Smith as director of intercollegiate athletics is over.

Yesterday Iowa State announced that Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Oklahoma Bruce Van De Velde will fill the spot vacated by Smith in July when he took the athletic director job at Arizona State University.

Interim President Richard Seagrave made the announcement at a 2 p.m. press conference.

“When we started the search we told the committee we had five things that we were really concerned about in finding a new athletic director,” Seagrave said.

“Number one, students come first. Number two, we play by the rules. Number three, we hire excellent coaches. Number four, we develop and balance the budget. And number five, we sought a person who could represent Iowa State to the public with the excellence that we feel we are working to become.”

Seagrave said that he was “really glad they found that person” in Van De Velde.

Aside from Oklahoma, Van De Velde has served at several other colleges. He was athletic director at Utah State from 1998 to 1999. His other stops include Missouri, Kansas State, Tulane University, and he was a recruiting coordinator at the University of Iowa.

While he has held several different jobs, Van De Velde said he thinks Iowa State will be a permanent job and that he hoped to be at the university “forever.”

“It has been a whirlwind, the last 36 to 48 hours,” Van De Velde said. “It is indeed an honor for me to have been chosen as the director of athletics at my alma mater, Iowa State University.”

Van De Velde’s appointment will be effective Nov. 15, and he said he hopes to be working on several of his goals by that time.

“I look forward to providing the leadership and the vision necessary to move Iowa State’s program toward academic and athletic excellence,” Van De Velde explained.

Vice President of External Affairs Murray Blackwelder said that he is very happy with the choice, but explained that Van De Velde is taking over a vastly different program compared to when Smith took the job in July of 1993.

“Gene Smith did a great job. He came in in 1993 and we certainly didn’t have [the Jacobson Building] and we didn’t have all of these wonderful things we have now,” Blackwelder said.

Blackwelder added that one of the traits that attracted him to Van De Velde was his fund-raising abilities.

“He was very strong fund-raising,” Blackwelder explained, “he’s a great fund-raiser every place he’s been.”

While at Oklahoma, Van De Velde oversaw the reorganization of the Sooner Club fund-raising program, which has increased annual contributions by 80 percent.

He also directed the Campaign for Sooner Sports, which is a $75 million capital campaign to fund facility improvement and scholarship endowments.

One of the first things Van De Velde will face at Iowa State is what to do with football coach Dan McCarney’s contract.

McCarney has one year left on his contract.

“I want to have the chance to sit down and talk to Coach McCarney and visit with our administration, and then go from there,” Van De Velde said.

“I think everyone in the Big 12 Conference, and really around the country, is aware of the job that those coaches have done here in this past year,” Van De Velde explained.

McCarney has stated that he wants to wait until the end of the regular season before addressing his contract.

“I’m getting ready for Kansas State now in these next three days, that’s the most important thing in the world to me right now, outside of my family,” McCarney said.