The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVII, Issue 31
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
May 3, 2002

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin




Athletic director Marcum taking early retirement

by Daniel J. Fitzgibbons, Chronicle staff

Bob Marcum

Bob Marcum

Cthletic director Bob Marcum announced Wednesday that he is taking the state-sponsored early retirement program and stepping down from his post on June 14.

     "We've had a great run, but I've been thinking about making this move for the last few months," Marcum said. "With a new chancellor [John Lombardi] on board, it just seemed that the timing was right.

     "Our department has made tremendous strides, both academically and athletically, over the years due to the efforts of the student-athletes, coaches, and support staff, and I'd like to thank them for all of their hard work and dedication. Without their efforts, our program would not be the success that it is today."

     Just the fourth individual to serve as athletic director in a non-interim capacity since 1911, Marcum was hired in early 1993 and credited with leading the department to prominence on and off the field. The athletic program was recently named to the U.S. News & World Report College Sports Honor Roll, which recognized the nation's 20 best athletic departments based on gender equity commitment, win-loss record, sport sponsorship and student-athlete graduation rates.

     "There's no doubt that the success we have been able to achieve, in the classroom and in competition, wouldn't have been possible without the financial support and resources provided by the Board of Trustees, the President's Office and our campus administration," said Marcum.

     Marcum was the 1999 Northeast Region I-AA Athletic Director of the Year and was a finalist for the national honor. Under his direction, Massachusetts has become the Atlantic 10's most dominant all-around athletic program, both academically and athletically.

     "What Bob Marcum has been able to achieve for nearly a decade can be summarized with one word: excellence," President William M. Bulger said. "Under Bob's distinguished, careful leadership, Amherst's Division I athletic program has achieved excellence on the playing fields, and its student-athletes have performed with distinction in the classroom.

     "The UMass-Amherst athletic program has been recognized as a national leader when it comes to placing female athletes on a level playing field with their male counterparts, and the program has won numerous plaudits with respect to the academic performance of its dedicated athletes," Bulger added.

     UMass has produced more Atlantic 10 all-academic selections than any other league school over the past seven years, and has led the conference in academic all-league picks six times in that stretch. In addition, Massachusetts student-athletes have consistently graduated at a higher rate than the student body as a whole, and since 1996, its graduation rate for student-athletes completing their eligibility has been 90 percent or higher every year.

     Interim Chancellor Marcellette G. Williams saluted Marcum's leadership, "Bob Marcum has served the University admirably. He did the job he was hired to do, and he did it very well. Beside the athletic success the University achieved under his leadership, the University also became a leader in Title IX compliance during his tenure here. Also, importantly, his focus on academics, and the 'student' part of the student-athlete brought the University many honors and much praise.

     "The success of the University's athletic program in the last nine years is a tribute to his leadership. A leader sets the tone for an organization that allows and encourages success. Bob understood this and was able to create the right environment for a strong Division I athletic program. The University will continue its commitment to the standards he set," she added.

     Athletically, UMass programs have enjoyed tremendous success on Marcum's watch, capturing five of seven Atlantic 10 Commissioner's Cups, in recognition of the league's top all-around athletic program, and averaging a 62.5 finish in the final Sears Directors Cup standings, which ranks over 300 Division I institutions. Six times in the award's history, all under Marcum, the UMass program has finished among the nation's top 60 programs. In all, Massachusetts teams have won nearly 65 percent of their contests, captured 65 Atlantic 10 titles and made 70 NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted by the men's basketball team's 1996 Final Four appearance, the football team's 1998 I-AA national championship, and back-to-back (1997 and 1998) College World Series trips by the softball squad.

     In addition, Marcum presided over the construction of a state-of-the-art softball complex and was instrumental in securing the commitment for a new student recreation facility for the entire campus.

     Under his leadership, the school's Athletic Hall of Fame and Varsity "M" Club were both resurrected after being dormant for several years.

     "Bob Marcum leaves behind an athletic program that U.S. News & World Report has described as one of the 20 best in the nation," Bulger said. "Our challenge is to ensure that the Amherst program remains at this lofty level -- and this is a challenge that we all intend to meet. It is through our commitment to continued excellence that we will be able to best honor Bob Marcum's singular accomplishments."

     Chancellor-designate John Lombardi also paid tribute to Marcum: "Bob Marcum's outstanding performance as athletic director at UMass Amherst has left a legacy of academic quality and athletic performance. High-quality intercollegiate athletics are an integral part of America's most successful public and private research universities, and UMass Amherst's athletic excellence will attract strong athletic director candidates to continue that tradition."

     A native of Huntington, W. Va., Marcum came to UMass from the Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he had served as vice president and general manager from October 1990 until his appointment in Amherst. Prior to that, he served as the athletic director at both South Carolina (1982-88) and Kansas (1978-82). Marcum began his career in intercollegiate athletics at Iowa State University in 1971, where he served as associate athletic director until moving to Kansas. He also served as vice president and general manager of the Charlotte Motor Speedway from 1988-90.

     An interim director will be identified and a search committee will be appointed within the next week, Williams said.

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