Ron Wellman Named Athletic Director of the Year
May 29, 2008
Wake Forest University Director of Athletics Ron Wellman on Thursday night was named as the College Athletic Director of the Year by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal.
The announcement was made at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City.
Wellman was one of four finalists for the award along with Jeff Hathaway of Connecticut, Lew Perkins of Kansas and Gene Smith of Ohio State.
"This is an award for the entire University," said Wellman from New York. "If it were not for everyone being on the same page, we would not be as successful as we have been. From the Board of Trustees, to the University administration, the faculty and staff, the coaching staff, our athletic administration, as well as the student body and our donors, everyone is in lock step with the value of athletics and academics within the university community."
"Street & Smith's has validated what everyone at Wake Forest University has known for a long time, that Ron is the best in the business," said women's basketball head coach Mike Petersen. "I've been in this business for a long time and have worked for some great people but Ron is the best that I've had the privilege of working for."
Wellman has guided Wake Forest through an especially trying, yet rewarding, year. His leadership ability was never more evident than in the days following the passing of head basketball coach Skip Prosser in July, 2007. It was Wellman's ability to bring together a grieving athletic department that helped the Deacons continue to move forward.
Through the hiring of Dino Gaudio as Prosser's successor, to overseeing a 9-4 football season and Wake's Meineke Car Care Bowl victory over Connecticut, and the men's soccer national championship, Wellman was consistently at the forefront of Wake Forest's success over the last year.
Wellman, who was named athletic director in October of 1992, is only the fifth man to assume the top position in the athletic department at Wake Forest during the modern era of intercollegiate sports, following Pat Preston, Jim Weaver, Bill Gibson and Dr. Gene Hooks, WFU's athletic director from 1964 through 1992.
Since taking control of WFU Athletics, Wellman has seen Deacon athletic teams rise to national prominence in several sports while perennially competing for Atlantic Coast Conference championships. Wake Forest's success in recent years has epitomized how Deacon teams are competing on a national level across the athletics board.
In the fall of 2007, the Wake Forest men's soccer team defeated Ohio State in the College Cup to win its first national championship. The football team is in the midst of its most successful stretch in school history, winning 20 games over the past two seasons and earning a pair of bowl bids which includes a 24-10 win over Connecticut in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2007. The Deacon field hockey team made its eighth consecutive appearance in the final four while the women's soccer team earned an NCAA Tournament bid for the 12th consecutive season.
At the conclusion of the fall of 2007, Wake Forest was ranked sixth in the NACDA Director's Cup which awards points based on each school's performance on the field. Wake finished 23rd in the race for the Director's Cup in 2006-07, the highest finish ever for the Deacons.
Off the playing fields, Wellman has spearheaded an effort to enhance the overall development of the student-athlete. He asks his coaches to stress academics and he has instituted programs to assist and develop student-athletes away from competition such as the annual Academic Excellence Banquet, a campus-wide affair which honors those student-athletes who have achieved in the classroom.
Another obvious sign of the progress Wake Forest has made -- and is continuing to make -- under Wellman's leadership is the ambitious facility improvement program that the athletic department has undertaken. The football stadium, BB&T Field, continues to receive multiple phases of structural and cosmetic changes. Prior to the start of the 2006 season, a brick façade was added to the interior of the stands, and a new state-of-the-art FieldTurf surface was installed. The new Deacon Tower will provide a number of premium seating options, accommodations for the media, as well as a main entry point for the stadium when it opens prior to the 2008 season.
The dean of all ACC athletic directors, Wellman has taken an active role on the national level. Wellman previously served on the NCAA Division I Management Council and served as chairman in 2005 - 06. Recently, he served as chairman of the NCAA Baseball Committee and directed the implementation of a new and expanded national tournament format, creating significant interest in that event. Wellman also serves as president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors' Association.
He is also a member of the NCAA Diversity Leadership Strategic Planning Committee and chairs the NCAA Baseball Academic Enhancement Committee. Wellman serves on the TriStone Community Bank Board of Directors.
Wellman was honored as the AstroTurf AD of the Year for the Southeast Region in 2002-03.
Born in Celina, Ohio, he earned his undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University, where he was a pitcher on the baseball team.
After receiving a master's from Bowling Green, he joined the faculty and coaching staff at Elmhurst (IL) College in 1971, serving as head baseball coach, assistant basketball and football coach and associate professor of health and physical education. He compiled a 210-136 record as head baseball coach before leaving to become the head baseball coach at Northwestern. In five seasons with the Wildcats, Wellman's teams posted a 180-97 record and 15 players signed professional contracts. Among those moving to the Major Leagues was Joe Girardi, an Academic All-America catcher who became the manager of the New York Yankees in 2007.
Wellman and his wife Linda have three daughters -- Angie, who works for ING in Atlanta and is married to Tim Lynde, a WFU alumnus and former basketball manager; Nicole, a pediatrician, and her husband, a former captain of WFU's men's soccer team Kevin Rice, live in Winston-Salem; and Melissa, a teacher, and her husband, Ben Norman, live in Greensboro. There are seven Wake Forest degrees between the Wellman's daughters and their husbands.
Additional Wake Forest coaches quotes:
Baseball coach Rick Rembielak: "It is a great honor for Ron and it shows his professionalism, loyalty, dedication and the direction he has taken the Athletics Department. It is a great tribute for all that he has done over the years at Wake Forest."
Football coach Jim Grobe: "Nobody is more deserving of this award than Ron. The best thing about him is that he cares about people, he cares about the student-athletes and, most importantly, he cares equally about everybody. He wants all the coaches and all the sports and all the student-athletes to be successful. Ron is in college athletics for all the right reasons. I can't think of a better role model for our staff and our student-athletes."
Men's Basketball coach Dino Gaudio: "In my seven years at Wake Forest, as both an assistant coach and as the head coach, it has been a pleasure to work with Ron. He represents all that is good about college athletics. He has set the bar for the entire athletic department with expectations of success, not only on the field but in the classroom as well."
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