The University of the Incarnate Word is conducting a national search for a new athletic director since the previous one has left and his predecessor would serve in the interim.
UIW announced Nov. 9 that John Williams, who had been director of athletics since January 2015, was stepping down effective immediately, and Mark Papich, who had been athletic director since 2001, would take his place until a new leader was named.
Williams, who was hired in 2014 as director of athletic recruiting in 2014, said he planned to follow his passion of helping other athletic programs develop student-athletes.
In a statement, Williams said, “It was a difficult decision to leave the program but the UIW athletics department is exceptionally well-positioned strategically, with extremely talented student-athletes. I expect them to be successful in the future.”
When Williams was named director of athletics, Papich became director of marketing and development for student life and athletics. Together both men had been working on a strategic plan for the Athletic Department.
Papich first came to then-Incarnate Word College in 1995 as assistant volleyball coach, becoming interim head coach in 1996. He was named athletic director in 2001 when UIW was only two years into NCAA Division II and a member of the Heartland Conference. Under Papich’s direction, UIW added men’s and women’s swimming, synchronized swimming, men’s and women’s fencing, and football.
In 2004, Papich was among those behind the school mascot change from Crusaders to Cardinals. He played a major role in the completion of Ann Barshop Natatorium as well as Gayle & Tom Benson Stadium and Fieldhouse. UIW athletic teams won a total of 46 conference regular season and tournament titles under his direction.
Papich also led UIW in the move from the Heartland Conference to the Lone Star Conference after football was added. Following that move, he led the department’s move from NCAA Division II to Division I.
Speaking about Williams’ resignation and Papich’s return, Dr. David Jurenovich, vice president for enrollment management and student services, said, “We thank John for his service and wish him and his family the best. In addition, please join me in thanking Mark for his continued leadership in this area.”