Asbury Hires Former SEC Associate Commissioner

Mark WhitworthWILMORE, Ky. — Asbury University’s reputation for excellence in and out of the classroom was re-enforced again on Thursday as former Southeastern Conference (SEC) Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball, Mark Whitworth, was introduced as the school’s new Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Whitworth, a 1984 Asbury graduate and former member of the university’s board of trustees, worked with the SEC for 25 years and was an integral part of the league’s multimedia rights agreements before becoming Chief Operating Officer at Knight Eady (a national sports marketing and event management firm) in 2016.

“While in the national spotlight, Mark Whitworth has continually exemplified the same positive integration of faith, learning and athletics that Asbury is known for,” said Asbury President Sandra Gray. “Mark understands the unique mission and atmosphere surrounding Asbury and its athletics department.”

While Asbury finds success on the field – with multiple conference championships, national tournament appearances and All-American selections in the past few years alone – the private, Christian university’s slogan to “Start here. Impact the World” is ever-present with teams serving in the local community and traveling on international mission trips each year.

“In the world of business, media, coaches and administrators, there are many people that put athletics on a pedestal,” Whitworth said. “It has always helped me to see the world in the context of the life which God calls each of us to as Christians.”

In the classroom, nearly 100% of Asbury’s 17 intercollegiate athletic teams finished the most-recent fall semester with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. The university is also annually honored as an NAIA Champions of Character school – a national designation for schools that best represent the characteristics of respect, integrity, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

“Mark’s background of excellence as a manager and mentor is perfect for an athletics department centered on the mission of equipping students for a lifetime of learning, leadership and service,” said Asbury basketball coach Will Shouse. “His experience and goals are in perfect alignment with how we have always viewed student-athletes and the athletic programs at Asbury.”

Asbury offers varsity athletic teams (all offering scholarships) for baseball, softball, women’s volleyball, plus men's and women's basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis and lacrosse. There are also six JV programs (in men's and women's soccer, men's and women's basketball, baseball and volleyball) plus cheerleading and tumbling.

Asbury is a member of the NAIA Division II in basketball and Division I in all other sports. The Eagles compete within the River States Conference (RSC) for most sports, and in the Appalachian Athletic Conference for men's and women's lacrosse and swimming.

“We’re excited to follow the leadership of such an accomplished individual,” said junior volleyball player Katie Billman. “He certainly has a history and passion for Asbury, but he’s also shown in his life and career that while success can include wins and losses on the field, it’s more about being prepared to serve others and advance the cause the Christ the rest of our lives.”

Whitworth steps into the leadership role of the department vacated by former Athletics Director Mark Perdue, the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (now the RSC) Athletic Director of the Year in 2015-16, who recently accepted the same position at Lincoln College in Illinois.

“It is a very significant day in the history of Asbury University,” said Gray. “It’s the first time that we have had someone at the Vice President level who will be serving on the cabinet. Mark Whitworth met with the cabinet this morning and will be serving with us, which allows a greater voice and an opportunity to lead in the overall mission of Asbury University, as well as the mission for intercollegiate athletics.”

Whitworth will begin his new role at Asbury on April 1.

“What excites me is to challenge, to prepare and equip our students and to love them well in the process,” said Whitworth. “I believe in the power and the impact of sports. I believe in the difference it can make in a person’s life. They teach life lessons like team, family, dedication, perseverance, sacrifice, victory and defeat… It takes a very, very special person to step out and compete. There’s no place to go and hide. It takes courage and it takes faith. You get immediate feedback and there is a clear outcome to every game. Many people go through life and never step out in faith. So, what a wonderful way to prepare our students.”

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