UPDATE: Ave Maria University Shakes Up Athletics Department as Part of Reorganization
Published on Friday, 06 January 2012 18:03
Ave Maria University's first football coach, Barry Fagan, has parted ways with the university as part of a reshuffling of the university's responsibilities for athletics and some of its business operations.
In the reorganization, which the university said in a statement concludes efforts by AMU President Jim Towey to streamline the school's operations, AMU's first athletics director, Brian Scanlan, will assume a new role managing and building a conferences and events business at the university.
Kevin Joyce, a former Illinois state legislator who moved to Ave Maria about 18 months ago and had been serving as an assistant to Mr. Towey, will take over both as athletics director and head football coach.
Coach Fagan (left) said in an interview that although the university's statement said he is "stepping down" from his position, he did not resign.
"It was not my choice to leave this football program," he said. "I told the players that I recruited that I was in this for the duration, to take it as far as we could go. I wanted to keep my job."
Asked why the university made a coaching change, Mr. Fagan said that he was told, "The program is going in a different direction."
"There were discussions that they were not happy with the academics," he said, adding that he and his staff made significant efforts to keep the grades of the players up.
Mr. Towey said in a statement that, "Ave Maria University is committed to having a successful, competitive intercollegiate athletics program. Wins and losses of course matter, but of greater importance is that our student athletes graduate with a first-class education. Kevin Joyce is the right man to move us in that direction."
Mr. Fagan was hired at AMU about two years ago and he recruited the team that played its first season last fall, going winless in nine games, an experience the coach told the Naples Daily News was "frustrating." Almost 20 AMU players - about one-fourth of the team - were academically ineligible for the final game of the season.
"Everyone around start-up programs understands there are growing pains," Mr. Fagan said.
"I think President Towey has a good vision for the university, but it's not necessarily Tom Monaghan's vision and I got caught in the middle of that."
Mr. Joyce (right) has some experience in school athletics, having served as an assistant football coach for four years at St. Xavier University in Chicago and coaching a high school football team before starting work at Ave Maria University in 2010.
"I appreciate the confidence that President Towey has in me and I can't wait to meet with our football team and get to know all of our student athletes," Mr. Joyce said "I know our coaches and they are a fantastic group and I look forward to working with them."
Mr. Scanlan's new role will be as an associate vice president at AMU, working in business operations with an emphasis on building a business in conferences and events at Ave Maria University. He is a successful entrepreneur who built a retailing business in the Ft. Myers area before taking on the role of athletics director at AMU shortly after the school moved to the current campus. Although he had no prior experience as an athletics director, he rapidly grew the athletics program to include 16 varsity intercollegiate sports - eight men's teams and eight women's teams.
Within the last year, however, the athletics department - including the football program - had budgets reduced as part of financial belt-tightening at the university. In May, 2011, AMU cut its operating budget by $3.6 million, and reduced the number of full-time coaches in athletics from 15 to 5.
"I've loved my work in athletics and I'm proud of what we accomplished in such a short time," Mr. Scanlan said. " I am an entrepreneur by nature and love business and so the challenge of attracting more conferences and events at Ave Maria is very attractive to me. This is a wonderful opportunity to help the university where I am needed the most," he added.
Mr. Scanlan is assuming the responsibility for conferences and events from Deacon Forrest Wallace, who had been managing that area as well as the university's public relations efforts. Deacon Wallace will continue as director of public relations.
Mr. Fagan said that he has no definite future plans at this point and wants "to sit down with my family and decide what to do."
"We love Naples," he said. "We've moved all over the country as I pursued different coaching opportunities. We love Naples, and we'd like to stay around here."