WKU busy in first week under Stewart

Lucas Aulbach

It’s been almost a week since former athletics director Ross Bjork accepted the same position at the University of Mississippi, but WKU is operating business as usual under interim AD Todd Stewart.

WKU has already hosted a weekend baseball series and hired a new women’s basketball head coach, former University of Louisville assistant Michelle Clark-Heard, since Bjork’s departure.

Stewart said his goal is to keep the Toppers on the right track during this transitional period.

“A lot has transpired in short order, and my objective is to keep WKU athletics seamlessly moving forward,” he said in an email on Monday. “We have a number of home events coming up including hosting an NCAA Golf Regional and the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament, and we have an outstanding staff who will rise to the occasion.”

President Gary Ransdell said on Monday there is no rush or urgency to fill the position and that he’s going to wait a while and see what pool of candidates the job attracts.

“I’m just letting the names come in, and a lot of names are coming in,” he said. “People are inquiring and I’m just going to get a list typed up and let it grow for a little while.”

He said on Thursday the next AD would have to meet his standards, which includes a knowledge of the profession, business and financial skills, a professional network, and personal ethics.

“No individual is going to have all the strengths you’re looking for, but personal values and ethics and integrity, along with the innate leadership skills and the acumen that comes with some level of seasoning, I think is going to be very important,” Ransdell said.

Stewart, who was hired at WKU as Associate AD for Communications and Media Relations in 2008, served as WKU’s Senior Associate AD for almost two years before he got the call to become the interim AD last week.

Ransdell said he has complete confidence in Stewart to run the program well during the search.

“Todd’s running things and he’s doing a great job,” he said. “That’s the primary reason why I feel comfortable in just letting this run a more methodical course.”

Stewart will be responsible for guiding the athletics program through the spring, when baseball, softball and outdoor track are at the peak of their seasons and preparing for post-season play. He will also be expected to promote the football spring game, scheduled for April 14, to the WKU fan base.

Stewart said he appreciates the faith Ransdell has shown in him by giving him the interim position but said his job right now is to guide the WKU athletics program, not jockey for a full-time promotion.

“My focus in this role is to give 110-percent effort every day on all matters related to WKU athletics,” he said. “Our spring sports are in full swing, and I really want the focus to be on our student-athletes, coaches, and teams.”