COLUMBIA, Mo. • San Diego State athletics director Jim Sterk will take over as Missouri’s new AD Sept. 1, San Diego State announced Monday. The Post-Dispatch and other outlets reported the news earlier in the day.
“Jim has made extraordinary contributions to the success of SDSU’s athletics teams,” San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman “I am grateful to Jim and his family for their service to the university community and wish them great success in their new endeavor.”
Mizzou had not formally announced Sterk’s hire as of Monday night. Sterk’s hiring is subject to approval from the University System Board of Curators. The board announced a meeting for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. After a call to order, the board will go into closed executive session for “consideration of certain confidential or privileged communications with university counsel, negotiated contracts and personnel matters all as authorized by law and upon approval by resolution of the Board of Curators,” the board announced Monday.
Sterk, 60, recently named AD of the year by National Association of College Director of Athletics, is in his seventh year at San Diego State.
Sterk is under contract at San Diego State through June 30, 2020 with a base salary of $315,000. Mizzou could come close to doubling that figure. Former AD Mack Rhoades’ salary at MU was $600,000. Rhoades left MU last month for the AD job at Baylor.
Since Sterk came to SDSU in 2010, 50 Aztec teams have advanced to NCAA postseason play with 20 top-25 finishes. Since 2012-13, 30 SDSU teams have won conference titles. Sterk, formerly the AD at Portland State and Washington State, was recently named to the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee, which selects the NCAA Tournament field.
Under Sterk’s watch, San Diego State has the nation’s third-highest combined winning percentage in football and men’s basketball (75.2) this decade, trailing only Ohio State and Louisville. Working in a pro sports town that also supports an NFL franchise and Major League Baseball, Sterk has helped build a popular following for the Aztecs’ high-profile teams. Steve Fisher’s men’s basketball program has drawn 72 consecutive home sellouts.
“It’s absolutely critical that we keep him here,” Fisher told the San Diego Union-Tribune in June. “I think if you look at what he’s done, the way he’s done it, the resources and how it’s happened at every level and layer, you have to say he’s the central piece to the puzzle.
“It’s easy for me to say, but rather than be reactive, we need to say thank you for a phenomenal job well done. You stretch the limits for him. We want you here as a lifer. Too often you wait until someone has one foot out the door. We want the Jim Sterk legacy to live on forever.”
One of Sterk’s first hires at SDSU was promoting defensive coordinator Rocky Long to head coach after the 2010 season when Brady Hoke left for the head-coaching job at Michigan. Long is 43-23 in five seasons with five bowl appearances.
Sterk was AD at Washington State from 2000-10, during which he hired two football coaches who struggled to get much traction in the Pac-10 Conference, Bill Doba and Paul Wulff, but he brought in Dick Bennett to turn around the men’s basketball program before turning the team over to his son, Tony Bennett, who coached the Cougars to two NCAA Tournaments. Sterk previously worked in athletics departments at Tulane University, Seattle Pacific, University of Maine and North Carolina.
Under Sterk, San Diego State ranked No. 54 nationally in athletics expenses in 2015 ($53,607,909) and No. 57 in athletics revenue ($49,011,745), according to USA Today’s annual survey. SDSU’s athletics budget was largely subsidized by the university — that’s not the case at Mizzou where athletics is almost funded exclusively by in-house revenue and fundraising — with the university subsidy accounting for nearly 49 percent of expenses.
San Diego State reported earlier this year that Sterk’s department raised a record $5.2 million for its scholarship fund last year and $16 million for endowed scholarships. SDSU also completed funding for a $15.8 million basketball facility.
Sterk earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Washington in 1980, where he played football and basketball. He received his master’s degree from Ohio in 1986.
Rhoades announced July 13 that he was leaving Mizzou for the AD job at Baylor, after which MU interim chancellor Hank Foley used Todd Turner’s national search firm Collegiate Sports Associates to assist with the hiring process. Sarah Reesman, a longtime Mizzou athletics administrator, was named interim AD last Friday and will likely serve in that role through the month.
Other candidates linked to the search included Tulsa’s Derrick Gragg, East Carolina’s Jeff Compher and Southern Methodist University’s Rick Hart, among others.
Two former Mizzou athletes outside of the AD world had drawn strong support around the state: former basketball star Jon Sundvold, who runs a Columbia investment firm, and Mike Owens, a former Mizzou football player who was a top-ranking executive at Anheuser-Busch for nearly 30 years. Sources indicated the last few weeks that Foley preferred a sitting AD, not an industry outsider.