The former athletics director at Murray State in July was named the ninth athletics director in ACU history.
Allen Ward was one of five candidates considered for the job after the departure of Lee de Leon, who took a job as executive senior associate athletics director/assistant vice president for development at Perdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
“I feel like it was a really good fit, it was something I felt like God was leading me to,” Ward said. “There’s something special going on at Abilene Christian University.”
The search committee included Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost; Dr. Gary McCaleb, vice president; Suzanne Allmon, senior advisor to the president; Eric Oliver, alumnus and donor; Donny Edwards, alumnus and donor; Dr. Jonathan Stewart, faculty athletics representative; Adam Dorrell, head football coach; and Julie Goodenough, women’s basketball head coach.
Schubert said the search committee looked for four key qualities – a strong Christian who is capable for serving the athletics program, a relational expert capable of engaging others and building excitement and momentum for the program, a proven leader of people capable of hiring and developing talent and a master strategist with a strong understanding of the business aspect of Div. I athletics.
“Being the athletic supervisor at ACU requires broad shoulders, hands and feet that never tire, and a heart that is selfless and committed to pursuing God,” Schubert said.
Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, announced Ward’s new position on July 16 at a press conference in the Hunter Welcome Center, and Ward official began Aug. 6.
“We looked for very specific things, Allen has that,” Schubert said.
Ward has been involved in collegiate athletics for 27 years, 14 at the University of North Texas and 13 as the athletics director at Murray State University. During his time at Murray State, the Racers participated in NCAA Tournament play 29 times, and earned 39 Ohio Valley Conference championships.
The men’s basketball team at MSU reached the NCAA Tournament 16 times, and is annually one of the top mid-major programs in the nation. During his tenure, they won six regular-season championships and four conference titles.
“Your success and your well-being will always be a priority for me,” Ward said to student athletes in attendance.
Ward said a Murray State motto was to have each student athlete leave the university with a championship ring on one hand, and a diploma in the other, and the same mission is true for the students he will mentor on campus.