Department merger opens position for new athletics director

David La Vaque

With the University’s dual athletics departments scheduled for a merger as early as July 1, the contracts of current men’s director Tom Moe and current women’s director Chris Voelz will not be renewed.

Both Moe and Voelz are under one-year contracts that expire June 30.

The decision, as outlined in University President Mark Yudof’s Athletics Financial Plan released Thursday, opens the door for a new athletics director to oversee the combined departments.

Moe was named interim men’s athletics director in December 1999 and took the position full time in November 2000. Moe will not remain at the University in any capacity.

“I believe the merger will serve all programs – men’s and women’s athletics – in a very positive way in the future,” Moe said.

Voelz, meanwhile, will serve as special assistant to the president on athletics during the next year. She will also head the search for a new women’s basketball coach.

“It became obvious to me I would not be the right person to steward the change in the structure,” Voelz said. “I’m leaving while I love the job, and I’m leaving the department in good shape.”

A 14-year fixture in the women’s athletics department – one of five in the nation operating separately – Voelz “respectfully disagreed” with Yudof’s plan for the merger.

She also opposes the University’s plans to cut men’s gymnastics and both golf programs.

Voelz said her solution would be to downsize within the athletics
departments and monitor spending patterns.

Turning her attention to hiring a new women’s basketball coach, Voelz said candidates will be offered packages that reflect their perceived worth.

Voelz said the offer would likely be more than the $130,000 per year former coach Brenda Oldfield received and could rank among the top 20 in the nation.

She said current developments would not diminish her enthusiasm or commitment to landing a quality coach for the program.

“My heart is still with the student-athletes to get them the best situation possible,” Voelz said.

The search for a new athletics director should focus on candidates outside the University, Voelz said, adding she would not endorse any internal candidates.

Voelz said she hopes the University’s athletics departments continue to recognize the needs of female athletes on and off the field.

Since her hiring in 1988, Voelz’s work has brought the University a women’s soccer, hockey and rowing team. She said her legacy lies in continued successes for female athletes.

“In 1975, the department was formed,” she said. “In 1976, there was the first suggestion to merge. I’m here to say we lasted a long, long time.”