MARTIN, Tenn. – Kurt McGuffin, director of athletics for Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo., has been named the new director of intercollegiate athletics for the University of Tennessee at Martin. He initially visited the UT Martin campus for an open forum April 19 and is expected to begin work June 28.
“Kurt is a top choice selected from a pool of outstanding candidates, and we are excited to welcome him into the Skyhawk family,” said Dr. Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor. “I believe he has all the skills and abilities necessary to guide our athletics program into the future.”
McGuffin has been with Missouri Western State University for almost six years, where he has been involved in budget management and fundraising, facility enhancements, student-athlete academic improvements and the addition of new athletic options. Prior to beginning his career with MWSU, McGuffin served as both assistant athletics director and director of athletics development at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo., and as senior associate athletics director for external operations at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.
He holds a Bachelor of Science from Kansas State University and a Master of Science from Wichita State University. Overall, he has more than 18 years of experience directing collegiate athletics.
“I’m grateful to the committee and to Dr. Carver for having faith in me to lead the department at (UT) Martin. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but athletics is also a lot of work. We plan to go in and hit the ground running as soon as I get there,” said McGuffin. In fact, he plans to begin developing long-distance relationships with program donors and coaches even before arriving on campus.
“Everything that we do will be about relationships. My relationships first with our coaches, since I’m coming during the summer, then connecting with the student-athletes as soon as possible when they get back in the fall,” he said. “(I will) build relationships with whoever is on campus working (this summer) – the admissions group and financial aid and everybody else that’s there. That’s important. At a smaller school, in a smaller community, all we have is each other. We have to make sure our relationships are good.”
McGuffin feels his experience at every level of athletics administration at a wide variety of school sizes and types will benefit the Skyhawk program in the future.
“I’ve served at big schools like Kansas State and Colorado, I’ve served at medium-sized schools like Wichita State and Idaho, and then I’ve also served as athletics director here at Missouri Western – a division II school. With a variety of experience at all levels, I can bring ideas to the table that may work at (UT) Martin. I think that’s important,” he said.
The McGuffin family is leaving a large city with a population of approximately 80,000 people, but they are excited to get back to their small-town roots. “I’m from a town of about 7,000, and my wife is from a town of 3,500,” he said. “We look forward to smaller class sizes for our kids and getting back to … a community like we were raised in.”
The appointment was made after a university search committee, chaired by Dr. Charley Deal, UT Martin associate vice chancellor for alumni relations and annual giving, reviewed applications from a national pool. Four finalists were identified in early April, and the search committee presented its final recommendation to Chancellor Keith Carver after conducting on-campus interviews and open forum sessions with each candidate.
McGuffin fills the post previously held by Julio Freire. Kevin McMillan and Mike Swaim have filled the position as interim directors since Freire’s departure from the university in March 2016.
“I appreciate the dedication Kevin and Mike have shown in guiding the athletics program through this transition period. Their outstanding service and leadership came during an important time for Skyhawk athletics,” said Carver.
A public welcoming reception for McGuffin and his family will be scheduled at a later date.
UT Martin is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference and competes in NCAA Division I in both men’s and women’s sports and the Football Championship Subdivision. For more information, contact the UT Martin Office of University Relations at 731-881-7615.