UC Davis Director of Athletics Greg Warzecka announced on Tuesday he will retire from the university on June 30.
Nona Richardson, current executive senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator, will serve as interim director of athletics beginning on July 1 until a national search finds Warzecka’s successor.
At the age of 60, Warzecka is pleased with his time at UC Davis.
“After serving the university for 16 years as athletics director and having been in college athletics for 34 years, I feel the time is right,” Warzecka said. “The last 16 years have been a very rewarding experience and I feel good about the progress the intercollegiate athletics program has made.”
During his career at UC Davis, Warzecka has overseen a significant transformation of the athletics program.
Since 1995, UC Davis has gone from a nonscholarship NCAA Division II athletics program to a Division I program with a budget of nearly $20 million.
Under Warzecka’s leadership, UC Davis’ first-ever athletics grants-in-aid were offered in 1998. Additionally, he oversaw the construction and renovations of major athletics facilities – Aggie Stadium, Schaal Aquatics Center and Marya Welch Tennis Center.
In 2005, UC Davis added women’s golf, and in 2009, women’s field hockey was re-introduced. With Warzecka’s help, UC Davis also added women’s rowing, lacrosse and water polo.
In response to university-wide budget cuts in 2010, Warzecka oversaw the termination of the wrestling, women’s rowing, men’s indoor track and men’s swimming and diving teams.
“It was the campus’ decision to cut and I handled a very difficult budget situation the best and most equitable way one could,” he said.
Also during Warzecka’s tenure, the athletic program received numerous awards.
The school’s commitment to Title IX helped Aggie sports earn recognition from Sports Illustrated for Women, as the magazine named UC Davis the top Division II school for female athletes in 1999 and 2000.
The following year, Sports Illustrated editors selected the university as the top Division II school.
In 2003, the UC Davis student body passed the Campus Expansion Initiative, which provided funding to support a move to Division I. The campus launched a four-year reclassification to its new status, joining the Big West Conference.
Recently, Warzecka helped the UC Davis football program enter the Big Sky Conference, which will begin in 2012.
“It’s a proud time for everyone to reflect on that transition of this athletic program over the last 15-16 years,” Warzecka said. “When we reflect back on where we were in 1995, we now can sit and say, ‘look at what all the hard work did for future generations of student-athletes.’
“We feel a sense of pride, but we’re also pleased with the accomplishment because it creates a wonderful opportunity for lots of future generations of student-athletes and alumni.”
Warzecka’s work and accomplishments have certainly not gone unnoticed.
“[Warzecka’s] efforts helping navigate UC Davis from an outstanding Division II program to a rising Division I program were exemplary,” said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Fred Wood. “Recently, his work has been particularly challenging because of the budget crisis, but through it all he has always made the well-being of student-athletes his highest priority.”
Though student-athletes were his focus, Warzecka was affected by the university as a whole.
“Working on a college campus, I’ve always thought, is a blessing and just invigorating and enthusiastic,” Warzecka said. “I love college sports, so it’s been very satisfying.”
After his retirement, Warzecka’s daughter will graduate with a Masters degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. One week later, she will be married.
Between now and June 30, Warzecka will remain busy working on the budget for the athletic department, as well as guiding the program in its transition to new leadership.
GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.