Jeff Walker stood behind a podium bearing the Indiana Tech logo and spoke with a southern twang to a crowd of student-athletes, alumni and faculty.
“As you can tell, I'm not from around here,” he said, which drew some chuckles.
Walker, a Tennessee native, was introduced as the university's new athletic director by President Arthur E. Snyder on Thursday afternoon at the Schaefer Center on campus.
“I chose Jeff for several reasons,” Snyder said. “Most importantly, he's emphasized that a student-athlete is a student first.”
He added, “Jeff Walker is the right fit for Indiana Tech.”
Walker comes to the university with leadership and experience in growing athletic programs, something Indiana Tech has done significantly in recent years. Most recently, he was athletic director and men's basketball coach at Crichton College in Memphis, Tenn. He started with an athletic program that featured only two men's sports with 28 student-athletes and helped expand it to five men's and five women's sports with almost 200 student-athletes in five years.
“Our athletic department has grown significantly in recent years, and we feel Jeff has the experience and leadership to continue growing our programs,” Snyder said.
Walker takes the helm of an athletic department that has grown from six programs (baseball, softball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer) to 17 since 2004.
Indiana Tech adds men's and women's lacrosse beginning this fall and will add bowling in 2010-11.
“I like the growth of Indiana Tech over the past few years, but I also like the challenge of growing it even more,” Walker said.
Walker's creation of the first student-athlete handbook and student-athlete athletic council at Crichton shows his commitment to the welfare of student-athletes, Indiana Tech officials believe.
“An athletic director is a person who is going to make the best possible environment for student-athletes,” Walker said.
Walker was the top choice out of 80 national and international applicants.
He replaces Roger Newton, who held the position for nine months until April.