Ky. - Northern Kentucky University announced Wednesday that Dr.
Mary Kirk has been named the school’s Faculty Athletics Representative,
effective June 2007.
Dr. Kirk, who
serves as chair of NKU’s Department of Kinesiology, Health,
& Educational Foundations, and professor of physical education,
will replace retiring math professor Dr. Thomas Kearns.
Dr. Kirk said
her appointment has been a natural progression.
been involved in athletics all of my life,” Dr. Kirk said.
“I’ve been an athlete and I’ve coached. And I’ve
coached at every level - youth leagues, high school and college.
The minute I stepped on this campus I got involved in the athletic
program here as a fan, and soon after as a member of the Athletic
Dr. Kirk began
her involvement in athletics as varsity head coach for girls' gymnastics,
field hockey and track and field at Orange High School in Pepper
Pike, Ohio, in 1969. She has since coached gymnastics and track
and field at Richmond Heights (Ohio) High School and women’s
gymnastics at both Michigan State University and Ohio State University.
At OSU, she helped lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten Championship and
participation in the NCAA National Championships in 1972 and 1973.
At NKU, Dr.
Kirk has been a member of the Athletic Council since 1991 and has
served as chair and vice-chair of the Council. She is a member of
the Athletic Council Executive Committee and serves on the award
committee that recognizes NKU top senior student-athletes.
Dr. Kirk also
has served on a number of athletic department head coaching search
committees. Dr. Kirk is a member of the Sports Complex Planning
Task Force. “But as important as anything else I’ve
done here, I’m a devoted fan,” she said.
director Jane Meier said Dr. Kirk was the ideal choice. “She
will provide excellent guidance and leadership,” Meier said,
“and I look forward to working with her as the athletics program
continues to grow.”
The FAR assists
the athletic department in interpreting NKU, conference, and national
governing body regulations; certifies the academic eligibility of
athletes; represents the university at conference and NCAA meetings;
and advises and assists the president and director of athletics
on various aspect of the intercollegiate athletics program.
who has served as NKU’s only FAR since 1984, says the position
is simply, quoting former University of Notre Dame vice president
Edmund P. Joyce, “the conscience of intercollegiate athletics.”
Under the leadership of Dr. Kearns, NKU has established a national
reputation for combining high achievement with high integrity.
being responsible for certifying over 220 athletes a year and ensuring
that NKU was in complete compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations,”
Meier said. “Only a handful of FARs at any level has done
what Tom has done, and I don’t think they can or do it as
well as he has done it. He has been involved and assisted in every
major initiative and decision of the athletics program."
Dr. Kearns said
the job isn’t too difficult when the program and the institution
have responsible leadership. He said the thing he’ll miss
most is working with the student-athletes. “We’ve been
pretty successful, and we’re doing it with kids that have
been good students by and large,” he said. “It’s
nice to win a national championship (referring to the women’s
basketball team’s 2000 national title) with every one of those
Dr. Kirk, who
has been a friend of Dr. Kearns’ since she arrived at NKU
in 1987 as an assistant professor in education, says that no one
will ever be able to replicate what Dr. Kearns has done. “He’s
been not only the conscience, but also the league historian,”
she said. “He knows so much about NKU athletics and the Great
Lakes Valley Conference. It’s going to be a challenge to even
come close to his awareness and knowledge of the program and the
Dr. Kirk said
that NKU’s great reputation and high integrity are a big part
of what attracted her to the position. “Coming from Division
I institutions, at first it was an adjustment. But I honestly was
drawn to Division II by the idea of the true student athlete. We
want students to be successful in the classroom and on the field,”
she said. “The fact that they are student-athletes is very
important to this athletic department and to the institution.
students achieve a balance between athletics and academics is crucial,”
she said. “For most student-athletes, their athletic career
ends after four years here, but their education and degree will
make a difference in the quality of their life long after their
athletic career has ended. Watching these students grow from their
freshman year to their senior season - seeing them grow into successful
adults has been very exciting.”
Dr. Kearns is
confident that Dr. Kirk will not only do a good job, but also enjoy
it. “She knows as much about the job as anyone on faculty,”
he said. “She has bought into the philosophy of athletics
at Northern. Mary will keep our conscience clean.”