Posted 11 months ago
By John Axtell
Smith, who has been the commissioner of the RMAC since 2001, replaces Brad Smith, no relation, who announced his retirement in April. Smith will begin his duties July 1.
A press conference to introduce Smith will be Friday at 1 p.m. in the Scottsbluff Room of the Student Center. Live streaming of the event will be available.
“I’m very excited about the challenge and new opportunity,” Smith said. “I’m at a time in my life that I’m looking forward to a new challenge. I have been an athletic director before and the opportunity to work with student-athletes is a wonderful thing. I’m eager to work with a forward thinking president who wants to make athletics an integral part of the institution. I’ve also always been impressed with the staff at Chadron State. They all want to be in Chadron and make the college the best it can be. That’s exciting and I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
Smith is no stranger to administrative positions or to Chadron State College. In addition to being the conference’s commissioner for 12 years, he was the director of athletics at Fort Lewis College and the assistant athletic director at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“Joel has proven himself in managing the conference at a high level and he has a considerable amount of leadership and experience,” Chadron State College President Dr. Randy Rhine said. “We had an opportunity to bring him to Chadron State and I’m very pleased that Joel has accepted the opportunity to join our team. Chadron State College has a great athletic tradition and I’m confident he will move our already strong program forward. Joel is very familiar with Chadron State and we would be hard pressed to find someone who knows as much as he does about the RMAC.”
Rhine also thanked the retiring AD, Brad Smith, for his 26 years of service to Chadron State.
“Brad came to Chadron in 1986 and by all accounts elevated the athletic program to new levels. Moving Chadron from the NAIA to a competitive NCAA D-II program took a significant effort on Brad’s part. We are grateful for all his hard work and wish him well in his retirement,” he said.
Smith said his main priority at Chadron State will be to create a culture that benefits the student-athletes, staff and fans.
“First and foremost, I want to make the student-athletes’ lives better,” he said. “Their experiences and whom they work and integrate within the community and campus is my main vision. I also want to operate our athletic program in the right way. We’re going to be organized and have an academic emphasis. It’s important an athletic department has a major role in the campus. And, of course, I’m like anyone else and I want to compete for championships.”
Smith has seen growth wherever he’s worked, especially at the conference office. He was instrumental in securing championship sites for the RMAC Basketball Shootout, negotiated live television coverage of RMAC basketball championship games, developed a strategic plan for the conference and established committees to help with the governance of the RMAC.
Smith also brokered a broadcast agreement with Altitude Sports and Entertainment, which airs the conference’s monthly TV show – The RMAC Showcase – that debuted in 2004 and is broadcast to 6.5 million viewers. He also developed and administered over $400,000 in NCAA grant resources and developed corporate partnerships to generate additional revenue for the conference.
As commissioner, he was responsible for management and operations of the RMAC which is comprised of 14 institutions and 21 championships. He also implemented the RMAC Hall of Fame, which inducted its first members in 2002.
Smith is also active within in the NCAA, serving on the regional advisory committees for football, baseball and men’s basketball. He’s also the chair of the NCAA West Regional Baseball Committee and a member of the Division II Championships Committee and the D-II Television Task Force.
Additionally, Smith serves as the vice president of the Division II Collegiate Commissioners Association and president of the Colorado Chapter of the National Football Foundation. He’s also coached numerous youth sporting events and is the Cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 217 in Monument, Colo.
Prior to the RMAC, Smith was the athletic director at Fort Lewis College from 1996-2001. During Smith’s tenure at Fort Lewis, Skyhawk teams qualified for NCAA Division II postseason championships in men’s soccer and women’s cross country and captured five RMAC titles. Smith also made significant improvements to the athletic budget, including the execution of a successful corporate partnership program.
Smith also worked as the director of athletic development and assistant athletic director at Metropolitan State College of Denver from 1985-96. While at Metro State, Smith served as the compliance officer for the athletic department, directed development and marketing initiatives, oversaw the athletic budget and managed facilities.
He was also responsible for developing corporate partner programs that generated over $250,000 of cash and trade. In addition, he was responsible for the marketing and promotion of the Roadrunners’ 13 NCAA sports.
Smith graduated from Metro State in 1987 and earned a master’s degree in management from Regis University in 1996.
He and his wife, Catherine Klazura, have six children: Timothy, Hannah, Andrew, Daniel, Sara and Joshua.
Smith is just the sixth athletic director in Chadron State’s history. The others are Ross Armstrong (1937-70), Mack Peyton (1970-80), Pat Colgate (1980-81, 1983-87), Dick Theibert (1981-83) and Brad Smith (1987-2013).