Monday evening, Marquette University named Larry Williams the new vice president of athletics and athletic director. We commend the university’s choice, which — based on information given about the hiring process — certainly seems like it was a well-informed decision made after much deliberation.
While we are excited about Williams’ hiring, we must still keep some things in mind moving forward with the athletics culture on campus.
First and most importantly: Williams has been named not just director, but a vice president of athletics. This proves the importance the university placed on our athletics program. Williams will report directly to university president the Rev. Scott Pilarz, showing that athletics are an integral part of this university, not a loosely affiliated department. As such, we will view Williams’ new position accordingly and expect more from him than his predecessors as he attempts to change the culture of athletics here.
With such a prominent position, Williams has an opportunity to offer a previously unseen degree of transparency from the athletics program. In the wake of the sexual assault allegations and other smaller incidents, transparency within the athletics department is crucial in moving forward.
Furthermore, Williams’ background as an attorney and a professor is something we believe will be useful in his time at Marquette, especially when handling sensitive situations and interacting with students. Following Pilarz’s example, Williams could teach a course as he did at Portland, which we think would be a good step in bridging the athletic community with the rest of campus.
While we all love basketball, we do have some other outstanding sports teams, and they deserve to be recognized. Having a campus culture that focuses on multiple sports is something upon which Marquette can and should improve.
Williams did some positive things at the University of Portland we would love to see carried over at Marquette. For instance, during his tenure, Williams clearly created a culture focused on academic excellence, which he mentioned continuing here in his press conference Tuesday. Focusing on academics in addition to sports is a difficult but positive undertaking, ensuring our athletes have careers beyond the sports they play here.
Improving the culture of athletics here is clearly the focus of Williams’ hiring, and this is something we will continue to focus on and advocate for as he begins his career at Marquette.