By Levi Convirs, MACU Sports Information Director
OKLAHOMA CITY – For the first time in 40 years, Mid-America Christian University has a new full-time Athletic Director, as Craig Ruiz assumes the position after serving on an interim basis for the past eight months. Ruiz replaces MACU Men’s Basketball head coach Willie Holley, who became the school’s first athletic director in 1973. Holley stepped down from the AD position in September of 2012, but has continued in the role of men’s basketball coach.
Ruiz is familiar with MACU and the athletic department after serving as head coach for the volleyball program the past two seasons. As volleyball coach, he saw immediate dividends on the court, guiding the Lady Evangels to their first winning season since joining the NAIA last year. He had six all-conference players and four NCCAA All-Region players over his two seasons at the helm. His student athletes also enjoyed success in the classroom by earning five academic awards overall during his tenure.
After serving in dual roles of interim athletic director and head volleyball coach, Ruiz will now be solely the AD after the university established the position as a standalone position.
Concerning Ruiz’s promotion, university President John Fozard said, “We are delighted to name Craig Ruiz as the new athletic director at Mid-America. Coach Ruiz has done an outstanding job as interim athletic director, bringing numerous tournaments to the campus and elevating awareness of the MACU throughout the region. We’re delighted that he has accepted the position of athletic director.”
Also, in his time at the university, Ruiz has played a significant role in developing the highly successful MACU Golf Classic, which was held today, May 10th at Earlywine Golf Club in Oklahoma City. The tournament raises scholarship funds for MACU students. MACU also hosted the Oklahoma Christian School Athletic Association (OCCAA) 2A and 3A high school boys and girls state basketball championships this past February.
Ruiz arrived at MACU with an impressive athletic background. He served as head volleyball coach at nearby Deer Creek High School, and prior to that, coached as the Shawnee Middle School head coach and club director.
He also spent 12 seasons as the volleyball head coach at Community Christian School in Norman, Okla., while also coaching golf for nine years there. He led Community Christian to four volleyball state championships and four Tri-State titles and also guided the golf squad to state titles every season at the helm.
Throughout his high school coaching career, Ruiz amassed 796 career victories and is a five-time Oklahoma Christian Coach of the Year. He coached 48 All-State players and 36 All Tri-State players.
In addition to his high school coaching experience, Ruiz also coached the volleyball club team at NCAA Division I UNLV for one season and was a graduate assistant coach at the University of Central Oklahoma for one season.
Outside of athletics, Ruiz has taken on several endeavors, including mission work that has taken him to five continents and 50 countries. The focus of his mission work in his words is, “getting water to the world.”
“Coming here to MACU, I never expected to be asked to lead the athletic department,” Ruiz said. “When Coach Holley decided to step down it was a shock to me because of the deep admiration I have for him and the job he has done with athletics and the institution. It’s humbling to have this opportunity, and it couldn’t be a more exciting time to be part of Mid-America.”
Ruiz alludes to the fact that the university has grown 256% since 2007 and has a student population of more than 2,400. This growth trend surpasses many Oklahoma colleges and universities. The campus is also expanding. A new classroom facility is under construction on the main campus to help accommodate the burgeoning student body.
The school has also experienced some banner athletic accomplishments this year. For the first time in history, the men’s basketball team, under the leadership of Coach Willie Holley made the NAIA Top 25 and made their 22nd appearance in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Tournament after capturing their 20th Central Regional title. The Evangels also had a player, Charlie Shorter receive the program’s first-ever Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year award. The Men’s Soccer Evangels also made their first appearance in the SAC Tournament since joining the NAIA.
Recapping, Ruiz said, “It’s been a very good year, and we have a lot to look forward to!”
Craig Ruiz graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education from University of Central Oklahoma. He and his wife, Joy, have five children: Aaron, Drew, Chase, Brooke and Cade. They also have one grandson and are expecting another in December.
His appointment is effective June 1, 2013.