Zack Lassiter, the current deputy athletics director for external operations at Oregon State, will take over as ACU’s vice president for athletics starting on Dec. 1.
Lassiter will take the place of the current director of athletics, Allen Ward, who will step away at the end of the semester. He will also be the fourth person to lead the athletic department since 2013.
Throughout his career, Lassiter has worked in the athletic departments at multiple Power Five universities across the NCAA Div. I level. Before his current job at the PAC-12 university Oregon State, Lassiter worked in the front offices of the University of Central Florida, as well as the University of Utah, who became a PAC-12 conference member while Lassiter worked there in 2011. He also serves on the NCAA Div. I women’s soccer committee.
“It was the perfect alignment of my personal and professional values that drew me here to ACU, as well as the people and the purpose here,” Lassiter said. “I’m drawn to ACU’s mission to develop leaders for Christian service throughout the world. I’m excited to join a truly Christ-centered environment.”
Before Lassiter’s hiring, Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, mentioned in previous interviews he wanted four main traits in the new athletics leader. He wanted someone who values ACU’s mission, someone who is a proven leader, knowledgeable in Div. I inner workings and one who works well with donors and alumni.
With Lassiter meeting all those qualities, Schubert is looking forward to having him on the ACU leadership team.
“He’s got the full package of all the elements that we have been looking for, and he brings the expertise and business workings within Div. I athletics,” Schubert said. “He’s brilliant too and with the time I have spent with him so far, I really see that. Plus he is very creative and I am really excited to see what ideas he brings to the table and cause us to think outside the box.”
Julie Goodenough, one of the members of the search committee and the ACU women’s basketball head coach, noticed many traits that she liked about Lassiter, but in particular, what stood out was his experience and enthusiasm.
“Zack brings this enthusiasm, energy and experience that will really help us, especially now with us changing landscapes of Div. I,” Goodenough said. “We needed to find someone who has been at the Div. I level because we couldn’t afford to take steps back, and the fact that he has been at a Power Five school and knows how to operate bigger athletic departments is huge. I’m really excited to have a leader with a lot of experience who is ready to hit the ground running.”
Lassiter has strong goals for the department including not only winning championships and generating success, but forming leaders of the department and the coaches and student-athletes.
In Lassiter’s eyes, one of his most important jobs and influences in the decisions he will make in his new position will come down to ACU’s student-athletes.
“It starts with serving them in everything we do because these are such formative years in their life,” Lassiter said. “We want to provide all the opportunities for our athletes to follow their passion, learn what is important to them and help them to grow. That starts with having a conversation, listening to their needs and working closely to help reach their goals.”
The new vice president for athletics will enter his position at a time full of change and growth for ACU but also in a time of uncertainty for the NCAA.
Right now, the NCAA and multiple conferences, including the Western Athletic Conference, are facing multiple realignments of conferences, bringing a sort of chaos to the NCAA Div. I world. However, Lassiter made sure to reinforce with fans that the ACU athletic program was secure as ever and that he foresees the growth coming for years to come.
“There are programs that are scrambling to maintain what they have and just trying to survive,” Lassiter said. “Then, there are programs that are building for a bigger and brighter future. Let there be no doubt that we at ACU are building, and our best days of ACU athletics are ahead of us.”