By Shawna O’Neal, Chattanooga, TN- Outgoing UTC Chancellor Roger Brown recently announced Laura Herron will serve as interim Athletic Director.
She has been working in the UTC Athletics Department for 19 years.
Herron said she is glad that she accepted the position when it was extended to her after former Athletic Director Rick Hart left.
“I like a challenge and having something different every day,” she said. “Rick Hart left us in a great position. We are doing well academically, and we are doing well athletically and socially. So I did not inherit any headaches. But it is a lot more meetings than I was used to, but, it is fun, and I enjoy being part of the great team that we have here.”
Herron said that the department was on a fast track to finding a new Athletic Director and hoped to have someone named by the end of the fall semester, but that changed when Brown announced early retirement.
She said the search will be extended until a new Chancellor is hired, and a name could be expected in March.
Herron, a native of Rising Fawn, Ga., earned a bachelors of science degree in corporate fitness and recreation from the University of West Georgia in 1991.
From there, she received her master’s degree in Foundations in Education in 1993 as she worked as a graduate assistant trainer at Troy University, according to gomocs.com.
Before she arrived at UTC, she was the Head Women’s Athletic Trainer at Florida Southern College, according to gomocs.com.
She began her time at UTC as an Assistant Athletic Trainer in 1994 until 2004. She also earned the title of Senior Woman Administrator in 1999.
Herron said that the position is something that NCAA designates and requires of every institution.
In 2003, Herron was promoted to assistant Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator and made her way into the compliance office by 2004.
She has held her current position as Senior Associate Athletic’s Director/Senior Woman Administrator since July 2010.
Herron said she plans on returning to that position after the new Athletics Director is named.
During that time, Herron also worked with USA softball as an athletic trainer for five years, according to gomocs.com.
From 1999 until 2003, she traveled to several international tournaments in San Diego, Hawaii and Canada with the National Team, according to gomocs.com.
She improved her resume in the summer of 2000, when she worked for the Olympic Gold-Medal winning USA Softball Team as they prepared for the 2000 Summer Olympics with their “Central Park to Sydney” United States Tour.
Herron said she also interned at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. in 2001.
She said her job responsibilities at UTC include supervising the UTC Compliance office staff, serving as a sports administrator for five different sports and managing student-athlete welfare.
She is also the director of gameday operations for women’s basketball and volleyball. Herron has also been a Tournament Director for numerous NCAA and Southern Conference postseason events, according to gomocs.com.
She has done more than serve as a director or administrator.
During the past five years, Herron has helped lead the Mocs’ efforts for improving their Academic Progress Rate scores.
She said she was responsible for developing and implementing a long-term strategy for student-athletes that led to record Academic Progress Rate scores in the most recent update for the NCAA.
There were a total of 11 programs that scored a perfect 1000 in the 2010-11 data she said.
This included the Mocs’ first multi-year 1000, which earned by the men’s golf team.
Herron said that she is trying to follow in Hart’s footsteps in order to continue being successful.
“He just brought this business mind to the athletic department that we never had before,” she said. “He brought the business principles. He brought a mission statement and core values that we try to adhere to everyday.
So I am just trying to follow in his footsteps and just trying to [think] ‘Every day and every decision you make, does this benefit the university and the student athletes?’ So I am just keeping that mindset.”
Herron said that when she first came to UTC she was not planning on spending her whole career here.
However, she said she is glad she has and does not see herself going anywhere anytime soon.
“It has been a wonderful career, and I have enjoyed every minute of it,” Herron said. “I do not foresee any major changes. When the new Athletic Director is hired, I will go back to my position of Senior Associate Athletic Director.”
Herron said she is looking forward to getting back to her old position.
“I will be happy to get back and be able to concentrate on some things like the APR,” she said. “Having time to get back to the student-athletes that I oversee that I am not able to do now, I look forward to that.
But in the future, maybe moving up to Athletic Director is something that the future holds, it is not something I am looking for right now.”