Southeast Athletics Director John Shafer Announces Retirement

Photo of John Shafer

Southeast Missouri State University Athletics Director John Shafer has announced he will retire effective June 30.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 16, 2011 — Southeast Missouri State University Athletics Director John Shafer announced today that he will retire effective June 30, 2011, after more than 40 years of athletics organizational administration at several universities, including the past three years as athletics director at Southeast.

Shafer, who was named to the position in December 2008, was formerly director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Mississippi.

In announcing his retirement, Shafer said, “Southeast Missouri State University is an outstanding institution and while I love my job and I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with such wonderful student-athletes and coaches, it’s time for me to devote some quality time to my family. My wife, Dianne, and I both have parents who are in need of some assistance and I believe this is a good time to leave Southeast in the capable hands of an outstanding athletics organization.

“We have truly enjoyed our time here in Cape Girardeau and the opportunities we’ve had to work with the student-athletes, coaches, faculty and staff. We’ve made great friends here in this region and I believe I’ve been able to cooperatively work with the athletics staff to bring this organization to a higher level.”

“I want to thank President Ken Dobbins for the opportunity and the Board of Regents for their support during my tenure at Southeast,” Shafer said. “There have been a number of successes over the last three years and I’ve been extremely blessed to work with some outstanding student-athletes, coaches and staff members.”

“I’m extremely grateful for the leadership John Shafer has provided our Athletics Department for the last three years,” Dobbins said. “He was the right person at the right time for our University. He helped us expand our athletics programs, hire outstanding coaches, and reorganize our Athletics Department. Although he was just here for three years, we are light years ahead because of his leadership and contributions.”

“John has truly exemplified what an athletics director should be throughout his career. We want to thank him for his great spirit, positive attitude, and his loyalty to Southeast and our athletics programs. He and his wife, Dianne, will be missed by our staff, our coaches, the entire Southeast athletics booster program and most importantly by our student-athletes.”

Dr. Ken Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, said the University will hold a national search to seek a replacement and in the interim, Associate Athletics Director Cindy Gannon will become interim athletics director effective July 1, 2011, in addition to continuing her role as senior women’s administrator.

During his tenure at Southeast, Shafer was responsible for a multitude of changes and successes in the athletics program.

Most recently, Shafer assisted with an excellent Division I Certification Self-Study prepared for the NCAA recertification of athletics. This year, every one of Southeast’s athletics teams met the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) benchmark, and eight teams received NCAA perfect scores of 1,000. Nine programs received their highest four-year scores, led by gymnastics, which received the highest scores for four straight years. Also significant, the OVC honored football with the Team Sportsmanship Award, making Southeast the only team to win both the individual sport Sportsmanship Award and the conference title in the same year. That football Sportsmanship Award was just a precursor to the University’s being named the recipient of the OVC annual Institutional Sportsmanship Award, which goes to the conference institution selected by its peers to have best exhibited the standards of sportsmanship and ethical conduct as outlined by the OVC and NCAA.

Under Shafer’s leadership, the football team ranked 8th place in the pre-season conference poll, finished its season with its first-ever conference championship and NCAA playoff berth, and Coach Tony Samuel won the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award – a first for Southeast Missouri State University. Also, men’s basketball made its first OVC appearance since 2006-07; Southeast’s gymnastics team scored their second conference championship in three seasons, and men’s baseball placed second in the OVC Conference Tournament; and the Redhawks swept the men’s and women’s shot put and weight throw titles at the OVC Indoor Championships.

Shafer’s talents as an athletics director were also felt in the classroom as under his tenure, more student-athletes received academic honors than at any other time in Southeast’s athletics history. In February, 186 scholar-athletes from the 2009-2010 Redhawks athletics teams were recognized for achieving a 3.0 or better grade point average – the highest total ever. And of the 186 honorees, 23 boasted perfect 4.0 gpas.

Southeast also had one CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American and a conference-high 17 OVC Medal of Honor recipients, the highest academic honor bestowed by the OVC. In addition, the average grade point average (GPA) for all student-athletes was a 3.09 GPA during the fall 2010 semester, and 11 of the 15 programs recorded a 3.0 GPA or better.

Shafer also played a role in improving athletics facilities at Southeast. Many upgrades have occurred and several facilities have already undergone or will undergo new construction, including the following:

• Gymnastics training facility located in the old Parker pool area was completed with a gift of more than $100,000 from the Vince Kelly family • Workout facilities remodeled at the Student Recreation Center South • New locker room and training room facilities in New Hall • Upgrades to Houck Stadium included new field turf, bleacher seating, sound system, lighting and a new scoreboard, just to name a few • Air conditioning at Houck Fieldhouse • Most athletic administration offices were moved into a newly remodeled facility across the street from Houck Fieldhouse • Repair of the javelin pit • Renovations to the Rosengarten Building

Shafer served as director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) from 20032004.  Prior to his tenure at Eastern Kentucky, Shafer spent many years in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), serving as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Mississippi from 1998-2002, Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Georgia from 1982-1998, Assistant Athletic Director for Business at Vanderbilt University from 19811982 and Assistant Business Manager, a football administrative assistant and an assistant baseball coach at Auburn University.

In 2001, while Shafer was at Ole Miss, it was the only Division I school in the nation to go to a football bowl game, advance to the “Sweet Sixteen” in men’s basketball and go to the NCAA Regional in baseball. During the last four years of his 16 years at the University of Georgia, Shafer worked for Georgia Athletic Director and legendary football coach Vince Dooley. Shafer also served as the liaison between the Atlanta Olympic Committee and the University of Georgia for the 1996 Summer Olympics; supervised all coaches on a daily basis, including scheduling, compliance and budget; supervised the entire ticket operation; prepared a budget of more than $23 million; and managed its entire insurance program. He was also actively involved in hosting men’s and women’s conference and NCAA events at the University of Georgia.

A native of Alexandria, Va., Shafer has a bachelor of science degree in health, physical education and recreation, and a master’s degree in physical education from Auburn University, where he also was an all All-SEC shortstop. Following his collegiate career in baseball, Shafer played professional baseball in the Kansas City Royals organization from 1969 to 1970.

Shafer and his wife, Dianne, have one son, Michael, a 1994 graduate of William and  Mary, where he played varsity basketball, and a daughter-in-law, Erin, and two granddaughters,  Sophie, and Sumner. Michael is the Head Women’s Basketball coach at the University of Richmond.