Trevecca Nazarene President Dan Boone wants to make it clear: The university holds no ill will toward outgoing Athletic Director Brenda Patterson.
“I wince a little at language that she is being fired because it indicates a poorly done job or dissatisfaction with her,” Boone said. “We are simply seeking to move her to a position of strength that we think can help the university and also strengthen our whole team. She is held in extremely high regard by the university, has great friends there. You can’t find anyone at Trevecca that wants her gone. We really want her to be there, just on a different seat in the bus.”
The university announced last week that it is seeking a new athletic director. Patterson will carry out her duties until the end of the academic year.
The change comes as Trevecca tries to make the move from NAIA to NCAA Division II.
The deadline to apply for membership is June 1 and Patterson, a Trevecca grad who has been the school’s athletic director since 2007, will oversee the process. Boone said the university plans to retain Patterson but wouldn’t say in what capacity.
One possibility could be as a senior women’s athletic administrator, which Division II schools are required to possess, along with a full-time compliance director.
“We have a very specific idea in mind [for Patterson] but I’m not at liberty to talk about it yet because it might affect other people,” Boone said. “We have had conversations with her. She is well aware of that ... give her a little time to make that decision.”
Boone said he started receiving resumes on Tuesday. He wants to start the search process within a couple weeks and hopes to hire a new athletic director by the middle of the summer.
“Our sense was let’s start with the athletic director position itself and take the strongest candidate for D-II leadership that we can find,” he said.
This will be Trevecca’s second attempt at Division II membership in as many years. The Trojans’ first application was denied last July.
Division II schools are required to have at least 10 varsity teams. Trevecca had 11 at the time of the application last year but men’s and women’s cross country had just been added and had not yet competed in a full season. Both teams competed this past fall for the first time.
Boone said he expects at least 20 schools to apply for Division II membership, with just eight being selected.
“It is not something that is a make or break for the university,” Boone said. “We just feel like a Level 5 national research university that to play at the NCAA level is probably the right fit for us. ... The kind of athletes we have aren’t athletes that are wanting to make a living to play ball. That sense of Division II being an investment in the kind of students that become community leaders in the workplace and have a deep appreciation for what they learned out of college athletics — we think that fits the mission of Trevecca in a good and strong way.”
• Winning fans with loss: The Belmont women’s basketball team was on SportsCenter this weekend, just on the wrong side of the highlight reel.
The Bruins’ season ended on Friday when Stetson’s Victoria McGowan heaved up a 55-foot jump shot at the buzzer. It rattled in as the Hatters edged Belmont 48-46 in a semifinal of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament in Macon, Ga.
“The first time we made it was not how we wanted to make it,” Belmont coach Brittney Ezell said on Monday.
But Ezell was quick to point out the Bruins were on SportsCenter again, shown supporting the Belmont men’s basketball team as it routed North Florida in the championship game on Saturday. In fact, for the rest of the tournament, whenever the women’s team entered University Center at Mercer, it received a standing ovation.
“It was amazing,” Ezell said. “I have never experienced anything like that. ... I think I was probably most proud of our kids for wanting to stay and support the men. After that loss, it would have been easy for them to tuck tail and run. They didn’t. They stayed.”
The sixth-seeded Bruins (8-14) knocked off No. 3 seed Campbell on Thursday. It was their third straight victory after losing 10 of their previous 11 contests.
Against Stetson, Belmont had just taken the lead on a three-point play by Shaunda Strayhorn with 1.4 seconds left. Strayhorn was fouled as she made a driving layup off the backboard. She then made the free throw for a 46-45 lead.
It turned out to be the last points of Strayhorn’s career. The senior from Dyersburg, Tenn., finished with 999 career points.
With no timeouts left, McGowan received the inbounds pass, dribbled once and lofted a prayer a few feet in front of halfcourt.
“She hit a once-in-a-lifetime shot. That’s what we tell our kids all the time — from tip to buzzer. She made a great shot,” Ezell said. “It is a tough way to end the season, but everything ends badly for all but one team. If things didn’t end badly, then they would never end.
"It ended — I hate to say it — in kind of a good way for us because our kids felt like it took that kind of shot to beat them. ... I thought down the stretch in the regular season we were just as hot as anybody.”
• MTSU golf wins again: The Middle Tennessee State men’s golf team won its second straight tournament when it captured the South Florida Invitational on Sunday.
The Blue Raiders shot a 54-hole total of 838 for the third-best three-round mark in school history and won consecutive tournaments to start a season for the first time in three years.
Junior Hunter Green shot a career-best 205 total, which also ties for the second best three-round score in school history. The Evensville, Tenn., native did it en route to his second tournament championship and first outright title.
• Belmont watch party: The Belmont men’s basketball team will host an NCAA Tournament selection show party Sunday at the Beaman Student Life Center.
Food and refreshments will be served at 4 p.m., with the team to be introduced at 4:30 p.m. and the selection show, which will air on CBS, to follow at 5 p.m.
Belmont (30-4) has secured itself an automatic bid after winning the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament last weekend in Macon, Ga. The Bruins have won 12 straight games and are the first team in the country to collect 30 wins this season. They will be making their fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament but first since 2008.
• Memorial contributions for Tina Stewart: The Middle Tennessee State University Foundation is taking memorial contributions for Tina Stewart, a women’s basketball player at MTSU who was stabbed to death last Wednesday, allegedly by her roommate.
Contributions may be made to Tina Stewart women’s basketball account under the MTSU Foundation. They may be mailed to MTSU Foundation, P.O. Box 125, Murfreesboro, TN 37132.