Timing has been everything for the California State Stanislaus athletic department.
Warrior Nation is on the verge of an overhaul, with groundbreaking for a stadium and all-weather track set for next month and administrative changes designed for the greater benefit of student-athletes.
With the softball team coming off a College World Series appearance and the men's golf team finishing among the top 10 at the Division II national championships, Stanislaus athletic director Milton Richards said there is a lot to be excited about.
"We have more support for athletics now than we did nine years ago," Richards said. "When President Hamid Shirvani came in three years ago, he challenged everyone to makes this a better institution and a better place. Without the new track, lights in the gym, and soccer stadium, we couldn't get to the next level."
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In addition to the upgraded facilities, the personnel is undergoing changes based partially on recommendations by the NCAA self-study review committee. The return of women's tennis and the gradual addition of new staff have enhanced what the athletic department can offer students, Richards said.
Kim Duyst, who has coached the track and field and cross country teams for 21 years, hands the reins over to two of her former athletes while she becomes one of two associate athletic directors.
Geoff Bradshaw has taken over as the new track and field coach. He won the Division II national championship in the decathlon in 1994 and was a former assistant coach. Three-time All-American Diljeet Taylor (formerly Mendoza), begins as cross country coach Nov. 1.
"They both have a lot of pride in the program and I know they'll do a good job," Duyst said. "They'll have a lot more support. We had just started offering scholarships when Geoff was here. Definitely, he'll have more resources."
Duyst will oversee compliance and gender equity, a role she has filled without a formal title for a few years. She will also oversee the development of the NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills program, a career, community and personal skills resource.
Duyst said she's always known she wanted to go into administration, and probably would have sought a position elsewhere had things not fallen into place at Stanislaus. She added she would still be able to help the running programs.
"Fortunately the job opened up and I can stay home," Duyst said. "It's a lot better to have separate coaches. To have an extra person is just going to help recruiting. Geoff can concentrate in the fall on track recruiting and he won't be worried about paperwork and running cross country meets."
Robert Harris, who worked in student affairs the last three years, returns to his previous post as associate athletics director for internal affairs. Former sports information director Hung Tsai returned after a two-year absence as assistant athletics director for communications and sports information. He will also oversee marketing.
Richards said he had taken on the fund-raising duties vacated by two full-time employees in an effort to save money in 2000 and joked that now he has a team. He knows people will look at the moves announced this week and wonder how Stanislaus is suddenly "flush with cash."
Stanislaus didn't hit the jackpot. Richards said, with the help of Vice President of Student Affairs Stacey Morgan-Foster, the athletics department was able to restructure positions and find money.
Harris said an increase of $93,000 to $100,000 the athletic department will receive from student fees alone pays for the women's tennis program, which was eliminated after the 1991 season.
The California Collegiate Athletics Association had asked Stanislaus to bring it back since Cal State Bakersfield moved up to Division I in 2006. The CCAA needed a minimum six teams to keep women's tennis as a championship sport.
"We just kind of caught up and were in a position to do this," Richards said. "Tennis is a sport that is very well-received in the area. It's not a real costly sport with 10 players. It's feasible and it made sense."
Turlock High boys and girls tennis coach Verek Visaraga will become the Stanislaus head coach when the sport begins in 2008-09.
Richards said Stanislaus wants to increase participation numbers, especially women. He believes the increased staff and programs will make the university more attractive to students and their families.
He doesn't know of any other CCAA athletic department with a trainer and a physical therapist, which Fatemeh Shervani began part-time this fall.
Matt Fraze, an instructor from the physical education department, has been working part-time as a strength coach. That will keep coaches from having to pay for one out of their own budgets, Richards said.
Amye Leon of the multidisciplinary studies department became an academic advisor assigned to the athletic department last year, Richards added.
"I want that separation to pursue academic integrity," Richards said. "I'm really pleased with the quality of staff we have. It's a real exciting time to be at Cal State Stanislaus."
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