John Shafer has been named Southeast’s new director of athletics.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 16, 2008 — John Shafer of Auburn, Ala., former director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Mississippi, has been named director of athletics at Southeast Missouri State University.
Shafer was on campus Dec. 10 for a public forum and was among two finalists for the position after a third finalist withdrew his name. Shafer will begin his new duties at Southeast Feb. 1. He replaces Don Kaverman who was relieved of his athletic director duties Oct. 9 and placed on administrative leave.
“I am very pleased with John’s breadth of experience and the caliber of his credentials to move our program forward and into the future,” said Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University.
Dobbins said he discussed the finalist candidates with the Board of Regents, and they unanimously recommended Shafer for the position.
Shafer said he and his wife, Dianne, were “ecstatic” when he received the offer to be Southeast’s new athletic director.
“All of us are looking forward to Shafer’s tenure at Southeast,” Dobbins added.
The other finalist for the position was Michael Waddell, senior associate director of athletics at the University of Cincinnati, who visited campus Dec. 12. Timothy Hall, director of athletics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, had been named a finalist for the position but withdrew from the search Dec. 10 and did not participate in an on-campus public forum.
“The entire pool of candidates was tremendous,” said Jim Limbaugh, a member of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents and a member of the Athletic Director Search Committee. “I was very impressed with the quality of the pool of candidates.”
Shafer added, “I have a great regard for Dr. Dobbins, and I really appreciate the Board’s action and that of the Search Committee. They brought in some really viable candidates.”
Shafer says his first order of business at Southeast will be to “come in and get to know the Southeast Missouri family – the staff, the faculty and especially the student athletes. I plan to come in and really be visible, especially in the community.”
Shafer was also quick to thank Cindy Gannon, who is serving as interim director of athletics.
“She’s been great, and will be a very integral part of our team,” he said.
Shafer served as director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) from 2003-2004. In the spring of 2004, 188 EKU student athletes were named Colonel Scholars for their academic accomplishments, establishing a new record for an academic year and tying for second for the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Academic Award. During the same year, the EKU men won the Ohio Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy and the EKU women won the co-title. The All-Sports awards were the first for their program since the mid-1990s. Also that year, the women’s cross country and softball teams won conference titles, and in just that one year, football attendance increased 38.3 percent at EKU.
Limbaugh says Shafer’s knowledge of the OVC will be extremely helpful as he takes the reins at Southeast.
“He has no learning curve about the OVC because he’s been there,” he said, adding this experience is an important asset to Southeast. “He will bring a stabilizing feel to athletics and will represent the athletics department and the University very well.”
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 1981-1982 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. While director of athletics at Mississippi, Shafer began a capital campaign for expansion and renovations to the athletic facilities and raised contributions from $3 million in 1998 to more than $6 million before he left.
“John’s been very successful at relationship building in his career,” Limbaugh said. “There are some opportunities here to rebuild some relationships. He can be a relationship builder, not only within the University, but with the Booster Club, donors and coaches. He has a great network within the coaching ranks and will be a tremendous mentor for our coaching staff.”
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, 4, and Sumner, 2. Michael is the Head Women’s Basketball coach at the University of Richmond.