Rusty Laverentz hired at MSU-WP's new athletic director
Wed, 08/10/2022 - 4:46pm admin
As of Monday, August 1, a new face joined Grizzly Athletics at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP). Rusty Laverentz began his duties as full-time athletic director. He brings more than 20 years of higher education experience to the position.
Laverentz's hiring is pending approval by the Missouri State University Board of Governors. He replaces Crockett W. Oaks III, director of business and support services, who has been serving as interim athletic director since last fall.
"The management side of college athletics has increasingly become a very complex area and one that any college with a sports program must take seriously," Chancellor Dennis Lancaster said. "With the addition of our new sports this fall, as well as the prospect of adding others in the future, we have taken the step to invest in a full-time athletic director so we can better ensure not only our sports programs' compliance with NJCAA regulations, but also to provide greater support to our coaches, our student-athletes and to loyal and, hopefully, new Grizzly fans this season and for seasons to come.
"We're excited to welcome Rusty to the Grizzly family in this role for our campus," Lancaster added. "He has the experience we were seeking in a new athletic director, and I'm thrilled he's decided to head east to Grizzly Country."
Lancaster also thanked Oaks for serving as interim athletic director. "Crockett agreed to take on AD duties at a critical time in the program, and we appreciate his enthusiasm and leadership," the chancellor said.
As athletic director, Laverentz will serve as chief administrator of MSU-WP's intercollegiate athletic program. He will be responsible for ensuring compliance with NJCAA, athletic conferences and university rules and regulations; developing and managing operating budgets for the department; and participating in fund-raising activities for Grizzly Athletics. He also will ensure academic resources are provided to student-athletes so they can reach their academic goals.
Laverentz has spent 17 years as a coach and seven in sports administration at various collegiate levels. He comes to MSU-WP after spending the past three years as assistant athletic director at Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas.
In that capacity, he was the athletic department's fiscal manager, overseeing the operating and scholarship budgets of 16 programs. He also oversaw game day operations and was the department's primary NJCAA compliance officer. And, he assisted the college's development department in fund-raising activities for athletics.
Laverentz said he is excited to join MSU-WP and plans to hit the ground running to make Grizzly Athletics one of the top two-year programs in country.
"To run any successful organization, I believe it's all about the people you surround yourself with. The better the people around you, the better your organization is going to be. There are a lot of good people already in place at MSU-WP," he said.
In Laverentz, fans can expect a "high energy, very passionate, loyal person" who is always going to do what is best for Grizzly Athletics. "My top priority is to do whatever is best for Grizzly Athletics and to do it the right way," he said. "I love sports and seeing student-athletes succeed both on and off the court."
To that end, he said he is going to rely on his experiences to help guide him as athletic director. "I have been at every level in college and at several different places. I've seen what has worked and what hasn't. I am going to use what has worked in the past and add onto it," he said. "I have also learned that you need to give the coaches and people around the program a chance to have their input and let them do their jobs."
Area residents also can expect to see Laverentz out in the community and involved in community activities. "They will see I am very approachable and will listen to people. I don't have an ego, so if someone has a better way to get something done than what I come up with, we will try it out," he explained.
Community involvement is key to building Grizzly Athletics and its fan base, Laverentz said. "If the community sees us getting out and helping out, it shows them that we care about the community and, in turn, the community, I believe, will take a greater interest in our athletic program and help it grow," he said.
"Community support is vital to run a successful program," he added. "The more people we can get involved with the program the better. Not only will it bring a sense of community pride, but it will create an atmosphere that student-athletes want to come to and be a part of because previous student-athletes had a great experience here."
Laverentz expects Grizzly Athletics to continue to grow in the next decade. "In five years, I see Grizzly Athletics adding a couple of sports, upgrading some facilities and getting more involved in the community, being competitive in every sport and doing things the right way. There are no short cuts to sustain success," he said.
"In 10 years, I see Grizzly Athletics in full 'go' mode with teams, some of the best facilities in the country, fully involved in the community and with great support from the community," he added.
Laverentz thanked Lancaster and search committee members for giving him this chance. "I look forward to working with them, along with everyone else at MSU-WP," he said.
Search committee members included chair Brenda Polyard, director of MSU-WP's University/Community Programs (U/CP) Department; Grizzly Booster Club Executive Board President Sonny Smith; Dr. Angela Totty, dean of student services; Dr. Michael Orf, dean of academic affairs; Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann; and Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Jared Phay.
For more information about Grizzly Athletics, visit MSUWPGrizzlies.com.