New athletic director shares vision

Special to the LOGOS

The University of the Incarnate Word’s new director of athletics shared a bit of his five-year plan to make UIW nationally competitive in Division I while making sure student-athletes graduate.

“We have great people here,” Dr. Brian Wickstrom said at an Aug. 16 news conference where he was announced as UIW’s new Athletic Department leader following a national search. “Get a chance to know me and my vision.”

Part of that vision will be realized by “growing the operating budget,” building another practice facility to reduce scheduling issues in the gym at Alice McDermott Convocation Center, and increasing student-athletes’ summer-school enrollment, Wickstrom said.

The new director said he also plans to “deliver a top student-athlete experience and compete for championships.” UIW is banking on Wickstrom’s reputation as a fund-raiser and academic proponent to get these things done.

“He is a builder and a ‘student-athlete-first’ athletic director,” Dr. David Jurenovich, UIW’s vice president for enrollment management and student services, said at the conference before bringing Wickstrom to the podium.

“In the university’s continued pursuit of excellence in Division I athletics, we are thrilled to welcome the talent and experience of Dr. Wickstrom to lead Cardinal Athletics,” Jurenovich said in a prepared statement for the media. “Brian’s vision and fundraising ability will, no doubt, help catapult the UIW program and brand to a level of national prominence.”

Wickstrom, who succeeds interim athletic director Mark Papich, joins the Cardinals after spending the past four years as director of athletics at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

Administrators said Wickstrom is widely acknowledged as one of the nation’s top fundraising athletic directors. He was recognized as a “Top Athletic Director in the Group of Five” by SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty and was named one of the Top 10 Fundraising ADs in College Athletics by CollegeAD. During his career, he has been personally responsible for securing more than $91 million in commitments.

Additionally, Wickstrom carries a strong history of facilitating a positive student-athlete experience and promoting engagement with the general student body. In December, he received the Excellence in Service to Students Award after being selected by the ULM student body as someone who mentors and teaches with heart and passion and has motivated them in their pursuit of education.

Wickstrom’s career spans nearly 20 years in collegiate athletics. Prior to ULM, he served in a number of capacities with Ohio University in Athens, the University of Missouri in Columbia, Santa Clara (Calif.) University, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the University of Texas at El Paso and the University of California-Riverside. While attending Kansas State University in Manhattan, the native Nebraskan was a track-and-field athlete, specializing in the 400 meters.

Although he shared at the news conference that he never won a race, he learned lessons on the field about perseverance. Academically, he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration with concentrations in finance and management, respectively. He also has a master’s in sports administration from Ohio University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.

Wickstrom also brought his immediate family to the news conference. He and his wife, Celina, have four young sons, Vince, John Christian, David Grant and James, and a daughter, Bricelle Leigh.

“My family and I are very excited about relocating to the San Antonio community as it has always been a priority for Celina and I to raise our children in a community that is family-oriented and full of history,” Wickstrom said.

“I am blessed and honored to be selected as the next Director of Athletics at UIW,” Wickstrom said. “I would like to thank (new UIW President) Dr. (Thomas) Evans, Dr. Jurenovich and the search committee for selecting me to lead Cardinal Athletics to a new level as we deliver a top student-athlete experience and compete for championships.”

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