Larry Williams, currently the athletic director at the University of Portland, has been hired as Marquette’s new vice president and director of athletics, according to the university.
Williams will assume these duties beginning on Jan. 2, 2012, and will report directly to University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz.
It was determined well before the search for an athletic director began that whichever candidate was eventually chosen would also assume a vice presidential role as well. Pilarz said the dual title displays the importance athletics play at universities today.
Pilarz said he needs “a partner” in an athletic director, someone who can help him make the best decisions for the university relative to athletics.
“I think it’s very important in terms of accountability and integrity that the AD report directly to the president,” Pilarz said.
Since 2004, Williams has been the University of Portland athletics director, where the Pilots set NCAA attendance records for their women’s soccer team for four consecutive seasons. In 2005, the program won the NCAA Championship.
Pilarz said he thought the profile of the athletics program at the University of Portland has given Williams the necessary experience to take the reins of Marquette’s athletic department, which has attempted to move forward from multiple sexual assault allegations last year involving student-athletes.
“He’s been the athletic director at an important program since 2004,” Pilarz said. “In that context he’s seen an awful lot and experienced an awful lot. He’s had to respond to many highs and lows. He’s handled all that extremely well. He’s a student-focused person. He’s talked about how athletics can be a transformative experience in the lives of students.”
The men’s basketball program at Portland was ranked in the top 25 for the first time under Williams and the men’s cross-country team finished in the top 10 nationally.
Williams played football at Notre Dame and graduated in 1985 after posting two All-American seasons as an offensive lineman. He advanced to the NFL and from 1985-1993 spent time with the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.
For any Marquette students and alumni thinking this means Marquette may pursue a football program with Williams at the helm, think again. Pilarz said Marquette was “absolutely not” thinking about a future football program when it hired Williams.
The selection process started with 80 applicants and was trimmed to 10, with whom the university conducted personal interviews. The final two candidates were then brought to campus, and from this the selection of Williams was made.