RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University Director of Athletics Mark Sandy is stepping down from his current position to take a similar position at Ball State University. Sandy, who was in his 10th season at EKU, will begin his duties as Ball State’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics on February 1.
“Mark Sandy has been a superb Athletic Director for Eastern Kentucky University and we wish him the very best at Ball State,” EKU President Michael Benson said. “While we are sad to say goodbye to Mark, we also recognize that this is a wonderful opportunity for him and his family. It is also a tribute to what has been accomplished on campus during his tenure that Mark was recruited away from EKU by an FBS institution.”
Sandy joined Eastern Kentucky University as the Director of Athletics in May 2005. Under Sandy’s leadership, the Colonels have enjoyed tremendous success on the playing field. Eastern Kentucky has captured the Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner’s Cup, an award which symbolizes overall athletic excellence in conference-sponsored championships, in two of the last three years. The Colonels have won 34 OVC team championships during Sandy’s tenure, including two titles this school year – men’s and women’s cross country.
“I have enjoyed working at EKU and want to thank the student-athletes, coaches, and staff who helped us achieve many of our goals the past nine years,” Sandy said. “The people of Richmond and Madison County have been warm and welcoming to Kitty and me, and we will never forget our friends here.
“With President Benson’s innovative and dynamic leadership, EKU is poised to conquer new heights,” Sandy added. “I wish everyone success in 2015 and beyond.”
Sandy was selected for the Ball State post after a nationwide search. In making the announcement, Ball State President Paul W. Ferguson said Sandy “understands the invaluable connections among departments at the university and has shown a great ability to forge alliances across campus. With his proven record of success of student-athletes in the classroom and in competition at Eastern Kentucky University, Mark will be a great addition to the Ball State team.”
At the national level, EKU teams have qualified for 19 NCAA championship events spanning the last 10 years. The Colonel football team has reached the NCAA FCS playoffs four times, including a trip this past fall, while the men’s basketball team danced in the NCAA tournament in 2007 and 2014. The Eastern men’s hoops team nearly knocked off perennial basketball power Kansas in the second round of last spring’s NCAA tourney. Meanwhile, the men’s cross country team has been a fixture at the NCAA championship meet four years running.
EKU’s student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom since Sandy became a Colonel. In the most recent NCAA Academic Progress Report (APR) released in the spring of 2014, Eastern Kentucky boasted several quality rankings. Ten programs – men’s basketball, men’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s golf, soccer, softball, women’s tennis, men’s indoor track & field, men’s outdoor track & field, and volleyball – received perfect scores of 1,000 on the APR for the 2012-13 academic year. This past fall term, the all-athlete GPA was 3.12, which marked the sixth consecutive semester the all-athlete term GPA was above a 3.0.
Under Sandy’s direction, the Department of Athletics has consistently strived to upgrade facilities. This summer, a new playing surface featuring an updated court design and logos was installed inside McBrayer Arena. New LED lighting was added to the basketball/volleyball arena as well. Lights were added at the baseball and softball complexes in the spring, allowing those sports to play their first-ever home night contests.
Last year, new Daktronics LED video displays and custom audio systems were installed at Roy Kidd Stadium and Alumni Coliseum. The video display is the first of its kind installed in Alumni Coliseum. Both video displays are 15 feet high and more than 25 feet wide, and designed to display HD video.
Upcoming projects on campus include a brand new eight-court outdoor tennis complex, which is scheduled for completion in early spring. Construction on a $15 million multi-purpose facility on the east side of Roy Kidd Stadium is expected to begin this summer. The facility will feature new locker rooms, coaches’ offices, a luxury suite level, training facilities, classrooms and a nutrition/dietetics center. Upon the 2014 announcement of a lead gift toward the facility from Donald and Irene Dizney, Mr. Dizney said, “We liked what we saw from Athletics Director Mark Sandy and what the Athletics Department was accomplishing with football, basketball and all sports.”
Plans are also in the works to update the baseball and softball stadiums.
Eastern Kentucky’s Department of Athletics has grown under Sandy with the addition of women’s soccer in 2005. Sandy also played an instrumental role in the creation of the EKU Athletics Hall of Fame. He served on the NCAA Football Championship committee and NCAA Football Issues committee in his tenure at Eastern Kentucky.
During his tenure at EKU, Sandy also served as Interim Vice President for Development for seven months in 2013 and as Interim Vice President for Marketing and Communications for six months in 2014.
Sandy began his career as a high school mathematics and history teacher, in addition to coaching basketball and baseball, and went on to serve as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Evansville, Wake Forest University and Virginia Military Institute. He later served as associate athletics director at Miami (Ohio) University and senior associate athletics director at the University of Richmond.
Sandy was an all-conference baseball player and captain of the basketball team at Concord College in West Virginia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1974. He went on to earn a master’s of education degree from Lynchburg College and has taken doctoral classes at Virginia and EKU.
He and his wife, Kitty, have two children, Kraig and Madison.
Dan McBride, currently Associate Athletics Director, will become Acting Director of Athletics on Feb. 1. A search committee, chaired by Nick Perlick, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, has been formed to help identify Sandy’s successor.