BATESVILLE, Ark. – Collegiate athletics across the nation is ever-changing and Lyon College is no different. Along with those changes come role adjustments for employees on a number of levels. In a move to assist the Lyon Athletics Department continue to grow and expand, President Dr. Donald Weatherman has announced a decision to promote Kevin Jenkins into a single role as the College's Athletic Director.
For the past four years Jenkins has served as both Director of Athletics and men's head basketball coach at Lyon. But with the need for more day-to-day hands-on operations in the administrator's position, Jenkins welcomes the move with mixed emotions, but looks forward to devoting more time to lead all athletic programs and moving the College forward.
"Of course, after being part of almost 700 basketball games in either a player or coach's role, I'm going to miss it. But, at the same time, I'm excited about the opportunities ahead for me and the athletic department, as a whole, here at Lyon," Jenkins said Monday. "After 18 years of day-to-day interactions with my players, that aspect of it, along with the planning, strategy and scheduling of basketball season, are things that I will miss when the season rolls around again.
"But with an ever-changing collegiate athletics landscape comes many more duties and responsibilities required of the AD and I'm looking forward to having the time to doing them."
Dr. Weatherman had the same thoughts concerning the time of making the change in the direction of a full-time leader for the Lyon College Athletic Department.
"Lyon College has a clear need to step up its development activities related to its athletic teams and Kevin Jenkins is the ideal person to do that," Dr. Weatherman explained. "His long standing relationship with players and other supporters is a real asset in this regard.
"By assuming this singular role here at Lyon College, he will have more time to devote to development work if he is not worried about coaching or recruiting."
The change is a major one at Lyon for a number of reasons. In the area of basketball, it is going to open the door for a change in which the 2013-14 season will be the first without Jenkins in a player or coach's role since 1984, when the institution was called Arkansas College.
After a two-year collegiate playing career at Three Rivers Community College, the Alton (Mo.) High School product arrived at Lyon and played for the Scots, beginning in the 1984-85 season. He played two years for the Scots, graduated in 1986 with a Major in Business Management and was also named homecoming king that year.
Jenkins stayed at the school as an assistant basketball coach for nine seasons, before moving into the head coach position in 1995, replacing Terry Garner. Over the past 18 seasons Jenkins has led Lyon to 210 victories. His win total as a head coach puts him third all-time at Lyon, behind R.C. Winningham (227) and Garner (224).
The 2005-06 TranSouth Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Coach of the Year then moved into a part-time role as Lyon College's Athletic Director in 2009, replacing Kirk Kelley, who also served in a dual role, along with head baseball coach, in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years.
Jenkins, 48, who is a member of the Lyon College Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2011, has gained regional and national attention for the College by serving in other capacities. He was president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches-NAIA Association in 2008-09, served on the NAIA Division I Men's National Championship Tournament Committee for six years and was the president of the TranSouth Athletic Conference basketball coaches for the final four years Lyon was a member of that conference.
Lyon College began membership in the American Midwest Conference in 2012, with 10 member schools. The AMC has since announced that two more institutions – Freed-Hardeman University and Mid-Continent University have agreed to join the league beginning this fall.
"The AMC has only three directors of athletics that do not hold coaching positions and I am one of the three," Jenkins explained. "I think that shows the value that these schools put on the position and the value having a full-time person dedicated to the director's role.
"With the addition of NAIA Eligibility Center two years ago the regulations and rules changing requires a person with full-time responsibilities. We have nine sports and 170 athletes to oversee on a day-to-day basis and by handling the basketball duties as well, I may be forced to be gone 2-3 days at a time on road trips, which takes away from the time I need to be spending on other matters."
Jenkins said he has seen a lot of changes in the role of athletic director in the last 10 years, not only at Lyon, but in other colleges as well.
"There have been a lot of changes in a large number of areas," he stated. "Athletics is constantly changing, as a whole, both on and off the field, demanding more time to make decisions, as well as with marketing and fundraising.
"Having a full-time person in this position will allow time for more mentoring of young coaches, for fundraising and dealing with the daily operations of the programs and facilities. It will allow me to do more things by freeing up time I was spending on basketball."
Jenkins said he is looking forward to being a part of the search for his replacement as basketball coach, but he also looking forward to taking a more active role in all the sports.
"Every sport and every athlete on this campus is important to me, whether I'm the basketball coach and AD or just the athletic director," he insisted. "And although I have a special place in my heart for basketball because of my coaching career, I want every team at Lyon College to have its best chance of success and for each student-athlete to get the best out of his or her playing experience here and have the same opportunity to graduate and have a successful life."
Dr. Weatherman said Coach Jenkins will continue to lead our basketball program until a replacement is named. Jenkins said the search for a new men's head basketball coach will also begin immediately.