After Slade Larscheid announced his resignation as director of athletics, Augustana named Bill Gross as interim director and formed a committee in search of his replacement.
Larscheid noted a desire to spend more time with family and pursue other professional opportunities as the reason for his departure.
After joining Augustana in 2014, the athletics department has won three consecutive NSIC All Sports Championships and has been the highest ranked school in the NSIC Learfield Cup Standings, in addition to winning the 2016 men’s basketball NCAA DII championship.
“It was a disappointment to many of us, because Slade has done a good job as director of athletics,” President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said. “But we also understand and respect people’s decisions to evaluate other professional opportunities if the family life is a little out of balance and they are looking for more harmony between their personal and professional lives.”
Bill Gross, the Advancement Office’s senior major gifts officer, was named as interim director of athletics on Jan. 25. Gross takes over the responsibilities and projects of the position, including fundraising and planning for the Larson Track & Field Complex, finishing the winter sports season and other fundraising and sponsorship programs run by the athletic department.
Gross previously served as the athletic director for 28 years before moving to the Advancement Office in 2014. He will continue to divide his time between the two positions until a new director is found.
“I [think] Slade did a fabulous job as our director of athletics,” Gross said. “He came up with new ideas and initiatives to move the program forward. Slade was a solid leader with a strong value system, and I was saddened to see him leave the university.”
As the announcement of the plans for the Larson Track & Field Complex was released on Feb. 7, Gross said he will work closely with track head coach Tracy Hellman and associate athletic directors Ann Traphagen and Lee Taylor in the planning and fundraising process.
“We do not want to lose momentum, but we also need to be fiscally responsible,” Herseth Sandlin said. “Until we have more pledges, as well as more cash from those pledges, we aren’t going to start construction on the project.”
Herseth Sandlin also said she feels confident that the university has enough financial support to start construction sometime later this spring or summer, finishing the project by fall.
On Feb. 1, a 14-person search committee including faculty, student athletes and athletic department members was formed to review applicants for the vacant position.
Professor Marcia Entwistle serves as chair of the search committee, and previously served as co-chair with former Vice President of Advancement Bob Preloger during the 2014 search that found Larscheid.
“Augustana’s athletic director must have vision, inspiration, and integrity,” Entwistle said. “We are searching for an individual who is enthusiastic about athletics, academics and can represent our unique culture of excellence.”
Herseth Sandlin also said that the committee will be looking for a “strategic individual,” as she intends to include the athletic department in the next strategic plan. Athletics have not been included in the past two four-year plans.
“[With] the strength of our athletic programs [and] the reputation of Augustana, both from the academic environment and the success of our student athletes in the classroom and in their chosen sports, we’re going to have a lot of interest,” Herseth Sandlin said. “I have no doubt we’ll find as good of, if not a better fit in the next director as we had in Slade Larscheid.”