John Leister Named Permanent Athletic Director
John Leister, a member of the Alma College coaching staff since
1994, has been named the College’s permanent full-time athletic
director following a national search that began in February.
Leister, who has served as interim athletic director since December, will be responsible for the overall development and general management of the College’s NCAA Division III intercollegiate athletic program, announced Nick Piccolo, vice president for student life at Alma.
His appointment is effective immediately. In accepting the position, Leister will step down as the Scots’ head baseball coach after 11 seasons, with assistant coach Jud Folske assuming the head coaching position. Leister will continue to serve as offensive coordinator for the football team.
A search committee consisting of Piccolo, men’s basketball coach Ed Kohtala, faculty member Karen Ball and student Kristina Fuehring reviewed 59 applications for the AD position.
“John brings a dedication to Alma College that’s unsurpassed,” said Piccolo. “The committee really appreciated his experience, integrity, candor and devotion to Alma College. He has good instincts for the position, and he is committed to the College and its athletic program.
“The athletic department has made positive steps forward since John assumed the interim position in December. He has the ability to continue that momentum. I’m thrilled he has agreed to accept this position,” he said.
The committee sought candidates with coaching experience and the ability to build relationships, recruit and retain prospective student-athletes, supervise the coaching staff, and comply with NCAA and Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association rules, said Piccolo.
“John’s goals will include articulating a central vision for the continued development of our student-athletes, coaches, facilities and financial resources,” said Piccolo.
Improving facilities and expanding lines of communication are at the top of Leister’s goals.
“We have coaches, staff and student-athletes here who are passionate about Alma College,” said Leister. “I’m excited to hopefully serve as a catalyst for helping the College and the athletic program move forward, not by inches but by leaps and bounds. I envision the athletic department linking up more as partners with admissions, academics and other campus departments. We also want to be visible in Alma and the surrounding communities.”
Leister came to Alma in 1994 as an assistant football and assistant baseball coach, eventually assuming the head baseball coaching position in 1997. As baseball coach, he led the Scots to the 1999 MIAA title.
During his tenure as offensive coordinator for the football team, Leister helped lead the Scots to MIAA championships in 1999, 2002 and 2004. He has led the offense to record-breaking seasons since arriving at Alma, coaching some of the finest quarterbacks in Alma College history, including 2007 graduate Josh Brehm, who won the Gagliardi Trophy last season as the nation’s best player in NCAA Division III football.
Prior to coming to Alma, Leister played professional football with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League and the Michigan Panthers of the now-defunct United States Football League (USFL) before pitching for the Boston Red Sox. He was a three-year starter at quarterback for Michigan State University, graduating in 1991.
He replaces Ellen Curtis, who resigned as athletic director in November to accept a position with the Alma College admissions office.
Alma College offers nine varsity sports for men and nine varsity sports for women. Thirty-four percent of Alma students typically participate in intercollegiate athletics. Alma competes in the MIAA, the oldest athletic conference in the nation.
Posted: Thu, June 7th, 2007 at 11:37AM