Mike Alden, Missouri's athletic director since 1998, is stepping down.
Dear Mizzou Family:
I hope that the New Year has started off well for you and your family. We are excited about Mizzou Athletics in 2015. Your support and your passion drives our University and helps "Prepare Champions for Life".
After several months of contemplation, I have decided that it is time for a change, both for me and for the University that I so dearly love. I have informed Chancellor Loftin of my decision to step down as the Director of Athletics effective August 31, 2015. My wife, Rockie, our son, Jake, and I have had an incredible experience at Mizzou and this is simply our next step in our journey in Columbia. We are proud of what we have accomplished over the past seventeen years, which is a lifetime for an athletics administrator. I am most proud of our tremendous coaches, staff and student-athletes and how they represent our University with academic integrity, social responsibility and competitive excellence.
But my journey at Mizzou is not coming to a close. As one chapter ends, another one begins and I am excited that I will be a part of the College of Education as an instructor where I will participate in the Positive Coaching Program and higher education leadership courses.
In addition, the College of Education, in concert with other campus partners, will be launching a Center for Global Service Learning Leadership. The Center will harness the tremendous service interests of our students and faculty into leadership curriculum allowing us to take our campus to the next step in the development of our students and our positive impact on the world. I have worked for many years as a volunteer, organizer and advisor in this area and I am thrilled to make this passion now my work.
I look forward to continuing to work with all of you in the coming months and assisting with the transition. Great things lie ahead for Tiger Athletics and the University of Missouri. M-I-Z!
Early Internet rumors tie Alden to the soon-to-be vacant SEC Commissioner position -- longtime commish Mike Slive is himself retiring on July 31, 2015 -- and I'm sure we'll find out just how legitimate those rumors might or might not be in the coming weeks or months.
Alden's tenure in this position has lasted as long as anybody's not named Don Faurot. He succeeded Joe Castiglione in 1998 and embarked on a tenure that recently earned him induction into Missouri's sports hall of fame. During his time on the job, he hired Gary Pinkel, who would go on to become Missouri's winningest football coach, and he became known as one of the best fundraising athletic directors in the country.
Mike Alden arrived at Missouri in 1998. Missouri faced an uncertain future as it entered the Big 12 Conference era. Competing with an annual budget of just under $14 million, Alden has grown Missouri’s operating fortunes to a record $85 million, greatly enhanced by the Tiger Scholarship Fund donation growth and has added state-of-the art facilities and amenities at nearly every venue in the Sports Park at Mizzou. Overall, Alden has helped lead a record $233.2 million facility fundraising efforts as MU Athletics has transitioned them into the SEC. His efforts also have secured the second largest gift in the history of the institution.
Missouri's overall athletic success and facility upgrades were sure to become a large part of Alden's legacy, but he will also forever be tied to Mizzou's move to the Southeastern Conference, which should help to ensure a successful, stable future for Missouri athletics.
Alden's tenure was not without missteps, of course. His alleged pressuring of Norm Stewart to retire -- however true or untrue -- immediately ruffled feathers among portions of the Missouri fanbase (and Missouri feathers tend to be rather difficult to unruffle), and what appeared to be a slam-dunk hire of Quin Snyder ended up failing a few years after the fact. And the current level of fan interest in the basketball program has plummeted in recent years following a risky (and ultimately rather unsuccessful) hire of Frank Haith. The dwindling of interest has continued as Missouri has struggled in Kim Anderson's first season on the job.
Plus, more seriously, it emerged last year that Missouri was not properly interpreting Title IX responsibilities as related to rape allegations. While there appeared to be nothing untoward about Missouri's interpretation, and while the university has worked to improve in that regard, fairly or unfairly, his name will be tied to that as well.
Whoever succeeds Alden will be tasked with both maintaining the high level of athletic success and fundraising he established and continuing to clean up the less impressive portions of the résumé. No pressure. It will be interesting to see which direction Missouri chooses to go; his successful track record and the ever-growing branches of the Alden tree of executives -- Ross Bjork (Ole Miss), Whit Babcock (Virginia Tech), Mario Moccia (New Mexico State), Peter Fields (Montana State), and Mark Alnutt (Southeast Missouri State) are all prominent athletic directors who worked for Alden at one point -- assure that Mizzou has a rock solid athletic foundation overall and that there are some ready-made candidates to succeed him.
Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also released a statement today.
Over seventeen years of service to the University of Missouri, Mike has transformed our athletics program into one of the nation’s best, with world-class student-athletes, coaches, staff, facilities, affiliations and financial resources. He led our institution’s move to the Southeastern Conference and has been at the helm as our teams won multiple championships over the years. Though I am saddened that Mike will no longer be a member of our leadership team and leading our Department of Athletics, I am truly happy for him and Rockie as he embarks on a new challenge here at Mizzou. Mike will always be a part of our family.
We have already begun a national search for Mike’s successor and I am confident we will find a tremendous leader to carry us forward.
Loftin, Alden, and dean Daniel Clay will be available for a media/public gathering tomorrow at Mizzou's Alumni Center.