PLATTEVILLE, Wis – Shannon James Ealy is coming home. The Platteville native is the new University of Wisconsin-Platteville Athletic Director, Chancellor Dennis J. Shields announced Tuesday.
Ealy most recently was the interim director of athletics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Previously, he served as a senior associate athletic director at the school from 2007-15.
"We were searching for someone with strong experiences in running successful athletic departments, and we found that person in Shannon Ealy," Chancellor Shields said. "He is a native of the region and brings special insight from being a former NCAA Division III student-athlete. His excitement and energy over returning to his alma mater are contagious."
Ealy is a 1991 graduate of UW-Platteville, where he majored in business administration. He also lettered four years on the Pioneer football team, playing wide receiver and quarterback under Coach George Chryst and earned honorable mention all-Wisconsin State University Conference honors in 1990.
"UW-Platteville has been a large part of my life, and there are a lot of great people who helped me along the way," Ealy said. "It's certainly very special to have the opportunity to return to a place where you have a passion for. It's an honor and a privilege."
Ealy served as an assistant to the athletic director at UW-Platteville in 1992-94 and, after earning his master's of sports administration and facility management at Ohio University in 1995, served as a marketing assistant at the University of Florida in 1995-96. Ealy joined the Southeastern Conference in 1996, first as an assistant director of championships marketing and administration and then as director in 1997. In 2000, he joined Bruno Event Team as the vice president of the Alabama Sports Foundation and then also became president of the Birmingham Sports Venues for Bruno Event Team in 2004.
"Over my 23 years of experience, I developed leadership skills, and that is something I enjoy," Ealy said. "I have never been in just one area of athletics. I've enjoyed a diversity of experience – such as fiscal management, fundraising, internal operations, external affairs and sport management – that will enable me to focus on helping the student-athletes and coaches be successful."
"His leadership skills were something that piqued the interest of the search-and-screen committee," said chair Dr. Tim Deis, a professor of mathematics and faculty athletic representative.
"The committee felt that Shannon had a personality that people connect with," Deis said. "He was down to earth, genuine and sincere. Shannon possesses a positive leadership style that centers on building relationships. We really feel his leadership will mesh well with the athletic department."
"Tim Deis did an extraordinary job leading the search, and the committee produced an outstanding group of finalists," Chancellor Shields said. "I commend them for their efforts throughout this process."
Ealy is set up well in the 16-sport department, thanks to the works of his predecessors, the chancellor said.
"Mark Molesworth served over 19 years as the athletic director, and I thank him for all his accomplishments," Chancellor Shields said. "When he retired, we went through the process of engaging the athletic department to assess where they are and their needs. Mike Emendorfer performed an admirable job in his year and a half as interim AD, making some significant improvements to the department and at the same time coaching the football team to the NCAA III playoffs. He is handing the department off to Shannon in good shape."
The chancellor said helping the Pioneers become more competitive across all 16 sports will be one of the new athletic director's goals.
"This position will be a lot more external oriented," he said. "The challenges facing the department are securing resources to be successful. Shannon will be reaching out to alumni, friends and businesses, encouraging them to support the student-athletes."
Ealy has faced challenges before, such as serving as UAB interim athletic director after the university reinstated football, bowling and rifle programs, which played out in the national spotlight and met with controversy. He helped get all three sports programs reinstated within six months.
"We want to strive for excellence," Ealy said. "We want to compete consistently at the conference and national levels. It's not going to happen overnight, but it's what we aspire to eventually accomplish."
Ealy, who begins his new position on June 22, and his wife, Carolyn, have three children: Caitlin (19), Brian (19) and Alyssa (13).
"I thank Chancellor Shields for this opportunity and Tim Deis and the entire search-and-screen committee for conducting such a professional experience and for allowing me to return to my alma mater and my hometown," he said. "I want to build relationships, paint a picture of where we are and a vision of where we want to go. I want the campus, community and region to be excited and support our vision."
Written by: Paul Erickson, Director, Communications, 608-342-1194, firstname.lastname@example.org