By Karen B. Eldridge
MC Director of News and Public Information
Maryville College Athletic Director Randy Lambert announced on Monday that he is resigning from his athletic director responsibilities, effective May 31, but will remain head coach for the men’s basketball program.
“My decision to resign has not been a spur-of-the-moment thing. I’ve actually been thinking about it for two or three years now,” Lambert said. “To put it simply, the growth and successes of our athletic department over the last several years have meant added responsibilities and increased time commitments.
“Obviously, basketball is my passion, and this move will allow me to concentrate on it and devote more time to the development of my teams and the young men who play for me,” he continued. “I support a new vision and new direction for this athletic department, and I look forward to being a part of the program for the next several years.”
Lambert, who has been athletic director since 1986, graduated from Maryville in 1976 and returned in 1980 to head its men’s basketball program.
In 22 years, he has built an athletics department known for its teams’ successes on and off the court. The majority of the college’s teams – 12 NCAA Division III-sanctioned sports programs – have posted winning records in the last decade, with 47 receiving invitations to post-season competition in NCAA national tournaments.
Additionally, the athletics department has seen an amazing turnaround of its facilities, including a $1.5 million renovation of the physical educational building, renamed Cooper Athletic Center in 1993, a $1 million development of the football field, stadium and press box, the addition of six new tennis courts and improvements to the softball, soccer and baseball fields.
With Lambert at the helm, Maryville also added five new varsity sports: men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s cross country and women’s cheerleading. Numerous employee positions were added, as well, including a full-time sports information director in 2006, and Lambert helped the department unveil and implement a new graphic identity for its sports teams and facilities.
“The Maryville athletic program is experiencing an era of unprecedented success now, largely due to the leadership and vision of Randy Lambert,” said Vandy Kemp, vice president for student development at the college. “We are all grateful for the years and sacrifices Randy has given to Maryville College athletics.”
Lambert’s legacy as athletic director will also include Maryville’s membership in a new athletic conference, which he helped form in the late 1990s. In 1999, bylaws and constitutions of the Great South Athletic Conference were in place, with LaGrange, Fisk, Piedmont, Stillman and Maryville colleges committing. The men’ side of the conference has grown to seven schools, with enough women’s schools competing to guarantee the conference an automatic bid to a NCAA national tournament.
Maryville College teams have earned 37 Great South championships and in seven seasons. The Scots have earned eight different GSAC Presidents’ Cups, which annually recognize the league’s overall winning program.
On the heels of a successful negotiation with the college’s football team into the USA South Conference in 2005, Lambert was honored with Maryville’s Outstanding Administrator Award.
During that award presentation, Maryville College President Dr. Gerald W. Gibson described the administrator as “well liked and respected on campus.”
“He manages to get the most out of each of his employees, and all of our 13 sports have benefited from his leadership,” the president said in 2005. “He keeps us in compliance with the NCAA, he represents our community in an excellent way, he brings great athletes to our school … and he’s a pretty good basketball coach, too.”
Lambert celebrated his 500th win last year, and his 2007-2008 basketball team (20-2) is currently enjoying a 13- win streak, a Maryville record. If the squad receives an invitation to the NCAA tournament later this month, it will mark the Scots’ 10th consecutive appearance at the Big Dance.
No decisions have been made about a process to identify and name a replacement for Lambert, Kemp said.
“I will, of course, be working with the president and others to arrive at the best procedure for the institution,” she said. “Fortunately, because Randy will serve as athletic director for another three months, we have some time.”