By Sara Williams, RSU Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
CLAREMORE, Okla.- Director of Athletics Ryan Bradley will be leaving Rogers State University later this month to accept a position with the athletics department at the University of Memphis.
Bradley, who has led the RSU athletics program since June 2011, has been hired as the Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Strategic Communications at Memphis. His last day at RSU is June 21.
RSU President Dr. Larry Rice praised Bradley’s leadership for the department, which has seen a historic period of growth and success for the Hillcat program.
“Ryan’s energy and enthusiasm for Rogers State has helped propel the athletics department, bringing positive national exposure to the university and its programs,” Rice said. “We’re sad to see Ryan leave RSU, but this is a great career move for him. We appreciate all that he has done for the university.”
Rice said the university will move very quickly to name a new athletic director in order to maintain momentum and continue to meet milestones as RSU enters year two of its candidacy to join the NCAA Division II. A search committee is being formed to evaluate qualified candidates as soon as possible.
Bradley was instrumental in helping RSU usher in a new era of Hillcat Athletics as RSU was formally accepted into the NCAA membership process in July 2012. He spearheaded a nearly two-year initiative to prepare RSU for acceptance and a successful transition to NCAA Division II. Bradley helped secure a home for the Hillcats in the Heartland Conference and guided the institution through the first year of a three-year process to obtain full membership status with the NCAA.
On the field, the 10 Hillcat sports programs have enjoyed unprecedented success with the teams enjoying national rankings and post-season success. In 2011-12, all programs combined to post the highest winning percentage in school history and sent three teams and one individual competitor to National Championship events. The women’s basketball, softball, and baseball teams all returned to the National Championships in 2012-13 with the Diamond Cats making their second consecutive appearance at the NAIA World Series. The Hillcats’ best two finishes in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup came during Bradley’s tenure as AD and a record four RSU student-athletes earned Academic All-America honors in 2012-13.
“Working at RSU has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Bradley said. “I’ve been blessed with great opportunities here and have enjoyed working with an incredible group of people. It’s impossible to put into words what being a part of Hillcat Athletics has meant to me and my family. It’s definitely bittersweet to see this chapter of our lives come to an end.”
Bradley directed the construction of more than $4 million in athletic facility improvements that were funded by the student body, which approved a fee to pay for the improvements. Renovations were made at the Diamond Sports Complex, a synthetic turf surface was installed at Soldier Field and a 9,000-square-foot fieldhouse was also constructed in the north end zone of Soldier Field. As a result, Bradley was able to lead a successful bid to host the NAIA Baseball and Softball Opening Round Championships in May 2013. The tournaments marked the first national tournament events hosted on the RSU campus and were responsible for more than $240,000 in economic impact to the region.
A Claremore native, Bradley joined the university in 2006, coinciding with the reintroduction of intercollegiate athletics after a nearly two-decade hiatus. He was the school’s first sports information director and was promoted to assistant athletic director for media relations and communications in March 2009. Bradley was elevated to associate athletic director for external relations in August 2010. At 28 years old, he became one of the youngest athletic directors in the country at a four-year institution.
In his new capacity as Associate AD for Marketing and Strategic Communications, Bradley will direct all branding, marketing and promotions efforts for the University of Memphis. He will also work with ticketing, media relations, alumni and Tiger Sports Properties. He will have sport oversight responsibilities and will also supervise the Tiger Spirit Squads and Band.
At Memphis, Bradley will be reunited with former RSU Director of Athletics Wren Baker, who was named the Tigers’ Deputy Director of Athletics in March 2013. Bradley will also be returning to the city where his professional career began as a media relations assistant for the Memphis Redbirds professional baseball team. It was there that he met his wife Heather, a Memphis native and University of Memphis alumna.
“I thought my career had quickly come full circle when I had the chance to come home and work at RSU seven years ago,” Bradley said. “It’s been a great ride. But the chance to work at a major Division I institution, alongside one of my closest friends and mentors in the business, and in my wife’s hometown, was almost too good of an opportunity to believe. As difficult as it will be to say goodbye to a place I care about so deeply, I’m excited about what God has planned for our future in Memphis. I’m very thankful to have been a part of this unique period of growth at RSU and look forward to watching as the Hillcats continue to flourish in the years ahead.”
For more information about RSU athletics, visit www.rsuhillcats.com.