Murky future for SPU athletics leadership

Search for a new permanent athletic director has still not begun

Uriah Aguon, staff writer

Former athletic director Jackson Stava, right, congratulates senior Alden Massey, left, on senior day. Without the help of the university president, SPU is unable to fill the position on a full-time basis. (Rio Giancarlo)

Following the departure of previous Seattle Pacific University Athletic Director Jackson Stava in December 2022, Dan Lepse was hired as an interim athletic director. Lepse has served in this position since January 2023; however, his contract runs out by the end of June 2023. At this time, it is unclear how the school plans on addressing this issue in SPU athletics.

The university recently announced the hiring of their new president, Deana Porterfield. Naturally, involvement in the search for a new permanent athletic director would be one of her first actions as president; however, she is yet to officially take office.

Back in December, Jeff Jordan, vice provost for student formation and community engagement, said the search for a new athletic director could commence once a new president was selected; however, Jordan also stipulated that the president would have the final say on when that search would begin. 

Christian Bond, assistant athletic director for communications, has shared that no decisions have been made as far as renewing Interim Athletic Director Lepse’s contract or seeking a new candidate.

Dan and I don’t really know what the plan is for that moving forward,” Bond said.

With the final say being in the hands of the newly-hired President Portfield, the lack of communication is understandable. Director of Public Information Tracey Norlen revealed President Porterfield has yet to communicate any plans with school faculty.

President-elect Porterfield is declining all interviews related to SPU until she officially transitions to the presidency at SPU on July 1,” Norlen said.

Jordan revealed he has also not had the opportunity to speak with President-elect Porterfield regarding any future plans for the institution.

She is not scheduled to start until July 1. As I have not had an opportunity to speak with her, I’m not sure I have much to offer … about the next steps with athletics leadership at this moment,” Jordan said.

If the search for a new athletic director is not finalized by June 30, SPU will be faced with having to keep the position filled with a temporary solution, whether that means the current interim athletic director’s position would be extended or another interim would be selected is yet to be seen.