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Wellman, the dean of athletics directors in the Atlantic Coast Conference and one of the longest tenured in Division I, has elevated the Wake Forest University athletics program to its greatest level in school history. Since being named to the position in October, 1992, he has helped lead Wake’s teams to unprecedented success both on the field and off.
Over the last three years, Wake Forest is the only school in the nation to have had a first round draft pick by teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB, WNBA and MLS.
Under Wellman’s leadership, Wake Forest has won four national championships and 20 Atlantic Coast Conference championships and finished 23rd in the 2007 NACDA Director’s Cup standings, its highest finish ever.
Wellman is only the fifth person 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, Wake Forest’s athletic director from 1964 through 1992.
Entering his 26th year in 2017-18, Wellman has played a large role in the shaping of intercollegiate athletics on a regional and national level. The chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship committee in 2013-14, he has previously chaired both the NCAA Division I Management Council and the NCAA Baseball Committee. Wellman is a former president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors’ Association and has served on the NCAA Diversity Leadership Strategic Planning Committee and chaired the NCAA Baseball Academic Enhancement Committee.
Wake Forest athletics has been prominent on the national scene in recent years. The football program has made five bowl appearances in the past 11 seasons, while the men’s basketball program has earned a postseason invitation in 19 of the last 27 seasons.
The men’s soccer program has been to five of the past 11 College Cups, while field hockey has appeared in nine Final Fours in the last 17 years. The men’s and women’s golf programs are perennial postseason contenders, with the women winning back-to-back ACC titles in 2009 and 2010.
Wellman’s efforts in leading Wake Forest’s rise to prominence have not gone unnoticed. In 2007-08, he was honored by two organizations. Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal named him College Athletic Director of the Year. The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) selected Wellman as its AstroTurf AD of the Year for the Southeast Region—the second time in his career he has received that honor.
Off the playing fields, Wellman has helped 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 CHAMPS-Life Skills Program which helps prepare student-athletes for life after college.
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.
Under Wellman’s direction, Wake Forest opened McCreary Field House in January, 2016. The state-of-the-art indoor practice facility serves all Wake Forest teams with a 120-yard FieldTurf indoor practice field. New practice fields at the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex were installed prior to the start of preseason camp in 2016 and Kentner Stadium received a new Astroturf surface for field hockey and an upgrade in the running surface for the track and field teams. The baseball team’s consecutive trips to the NCAA Regionals coincided with the opening the Baseball Player Development Center at David F. Couch Ballpark. “The Couch” project included a $14 million Player Development Center that includes a team locker room, team lounge, training room, equipment room, video conference room, team meeting room, a full kitchen, coaches offices, professional players locker space, a Wake Forest baseball heritage area and an indoor batting facility.
Construction projects continue with the Sutton Performance Center and Shah Basketball Player Development Center, both due to open in 2018. The soccer practice fields received a total makeover in 2017.
BB&T Field, continues to receive multiple phases of cosmetic and structural changes. Recent upgrades to the facility have included the construction of McCreary Tower, the installation of a new FieldTurf surface and the construction of a state-of-the-art video board on the south side of the stadium. McCreary Tower, which opened to rave reviews in August of 2008, was the result of an aggressive fund-raising campaign, coupled with generous donations of supporters.
Wellman led the efforts in the construction of a new outdoor tennis center, which serves as the home to both of the Wake Forest tennis programs as well as the ATP’s Winston-Salem Open and the 2018 NCAA Tennis Championships. The Arnold Palmer Golf Complex allows Wake Forest’s golfers to practice at the premier on-campus facility in the nation.
The Haddock House, named for Hall of Fame golf coach Jesse Haddock, provides coaches offices and locker room space for Wake Forest’s men’s and women’s golf teams. A recent renovation to the playing surface at Spry Stadium enhanced the home of Wake Forest’s nationally-ranked men’s and women’s soccer teams.
Born in Celina, Ohio, Wellman 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. Wellman was the director of athletics his last five years at Elmhurst.
He compiled a 210-136 record in baseball before leaving to become the head baseball coach at Northwestern University. 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 with the Executive Partners Mentorship Program in the WFU Schools of Business and is married to Tim Lynde, a Wake Forest alumnus and former basketball manager who is an associate commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference; Nicole, a pediatrician, and her husband, Kevin Rice, a Greensboro firefighter and former captain of WFU’s men’s soccer team, who live in Winston-Salem; and Melissa, founder and director of GirlCHARGE, and her husband, Ben Norman, an attorney, who live in Greensboro.
The Wellmans have 10 grandchildren including Connor, 10, Riley, 7, and McKay, 5 (Angie & Tim); Cole, 11, Sam, 9, Anna Kate, 4, and Molly, 3 (Nicole & Kevin); and Miller, 8, Emme, 5 and Hank, 3 (Melissa & Ben).
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