WALNUT RIDGE, AR (WBC) - Williams Baptist College men's basketball coach Jeff Rider is leaving the sidelines for an expanded role as WBC's athletic director. Rider, coach of the Eagles since 1996, is retiring as coach to work full-time running the athletic department and teaching in the Williams physical education program starting next year.
"This is a great opportunity, and I jumped at the chance to take on this position," said Rider. "I know I will miss coaching and working so closely with the guys, but at this stage of my life and career I couldn't let this opportunity pass."
Rider has served as athletic director, in addition to his coaching duties, since 2006. His new role will broaden his AD responsibilities appreciably, according to the college.
"Coach Rider is an outstanding athletic director," said Williams President Dr. Jerol Swaim. "Nearly one-third of our students are involved in WBC's varsity athletic program, and the administrative needs have grown considerably. We needed to expand our administrative presence there, and Jeff is clearly the right person to take on that role."
Williams has six varsity sports and about 150 student athletes. The Eagles field teams in men's basketball, baseball and soccer and women's basketball, softball and volleyball.
"Jeff had originally approached me about this possibility a couple of years ago, but it wasn't feasible at that time. Since then, the need has only become more apparent. With some developments in the athletic and physical education departments for next year, we were finally able to develop this position," Swaim said.
As athletic director, Rider will head the search for his successor as men's basketball coach. "We are planning to do an exhaustive search to find just the right fit for our program. We will publicize this position regionally and nationally to get a broad range of candidates," Rider said.
He will coach the Eagles through the remainder of 2010-11 season, as well as running the basketball program until a successor is in place. The Williams men are 9-13 this year, and their upset of nationally ranked Park University last weekend has been a highlight of the season.
"I met with my players and told them about the move. It was an emotional time, as you would expect, but the guys are supportive and happy for me in getting this opportunity," Rider noted. "That is a great bunch of men, and I'm really happy that I will still be associated with them as AD."