By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Andrew Carter considers himself a man of the people. That's what he pledges to be for as long as he's athletic director at Missouri Western State University.
"Everything we do is going to be about growing great relationships," Carter said Monday at his introductory press conference at Spratt Stadium on the St. Joseph campus.
"Whether that's in the department with our student-athletes, with our colleagues across the campus, with the community and building those strong relationships so we can all grow together. We're going to focus on a culture that is inclusive. That allows people to want to be part of what we're doing."
Carter was officially introduced after being named as the University's ninth athletic director on April 20. University president Elizabeth Kennedy noted Carter's vast experience in intercollegiate athletics, which spans over 30 years, as a key qualification.
"He's just a very strong individual," Kennedy said. "Very balanced, very disciplined. Can be kind of fun, too. We're just excited to have him here."
Carter has spent the last 25 years as an athletic director at various places, including Missouri Baptist, Armstrong Atlantic State in Georgia and Newberry College in South Carolina, where he was VP of intercollegiate athletics.
He was also A.D. Northwest Oklahoma State, where he helped gain NCAA DII membership for the University. He was later appointed to the NCAA Division II Membership Committee in 2019.
"Andrew has also demonstrated good stewardship of University resources," Kennedy continued. "Increasing athletic department revenue in order to pay for program and facility improvements. Andy's career has well prepared him to build on the solid foundation that Griffon athletics has established."
Carter has spent the last six years as the A.D. at Division II Minot State in North Dakota - a member of the NSIC Conference. Carter says the competitive nature of the MIAA was a big draw in taking this new role.
"I had always wanted to be a part of this league," he said. "I know Mike Racy, the commissioner, very well. I know the way they do things, I know the competitive nature within the league. All of that competition really puts wind under our wings to help raise our level to a higher place."
A St. Charles, Missouri native, Carter attended East Central College, earned his bachelor's degree from Missouri Baptist and a master's from Lindenwood. He and his wife, Rena, have seven children and 11 grandchildren.
Carter won seven straight conference titles as the head baseball coach at Missouri Baptist in the 1990s, where he played baseball himself. In fact, his final collegiate game was at St. Joseph's Phil Welch Stadium, where Missouri Baptist lost to Missouri Southern in the NAIA tournament.
St. Joseph isn't home, but it's pretty close.
"When I was living in St. Charles or St. Louis, I would think, 'Man, Missouri Western is way over there,'" Carter recalled. "Now, as an adult, a professional, I've been in conferences where a five-hour drive is nothing. Fond memories here. My grandmother was born here. We have family that was raised here."
Carter's hiring ends what was a nine-month search for Missouri Western. Josh Looney announced his resignation late last July to take the A.D. role at Division I North Alabama.
Theresa Grosbach, Senior Woman Administrator and former athletic director at Baker University in Kansas, served as interim A.D. for Missouri Western since late August.
In that time, the athletic department saw significant turnover, and had new head coaches hired in lacrosse, tennis and volleyball. Joe Yegge was hired as the new head softball coach just before Looney's departure.
Missouri Western also hired a new sports information director this past March, and are still looking to permanently fill the role of senior associate athletic director for external affairs. Brett Esely left that role last November after 14 years.
Additionally, associate A.D. Eric Kramer is leaving to take on a professor role at the end of the school year.
Needless to say, Grosbach received a lot of praise for her work over the last 9-10 months.
"If it had fallen apart, I don't know if (Missouri Western) would have checked all of the boxes," Carter said. "She really kept it going. She made really good decisions. She led in that void and she's put us in a position to hit the ground running and keep going."
Grosbach, who has a vacation on the horizon she says, expressed gratitude for the support staff who helped her hold things together during a time of transition.
"I would say I'm very grateful for the staff and the coaches that we have and how hard they worked and how much they bought into continuing to move forward," Grosbach said. "Excited for the student-athletes and looking forward to the future of Griffon athletics."
There are still roles to be filled and work to be done. Securing the future of Chiefs training camp is toward the top of the list. This is the final year of the agreement with the Chiefs, with two optional years after this.
"I've already got meetings on my calendar to get involved in that and start building those relationships," Carter revealed. "We want to have them here. We want to have that tie with them. That co-brand is awesome. That's very important to the University and the community."
Beyond that, Carter wants to build relationships. Listen to the needs of coaches and student-athletes. Get everyone pulling in the same direction. Build on what's already in place. Be a people person.
"My job is to connect with everybody and understand what they want out of this experience," he said. "What are they trying to accomplish and how does that fit in with the mission of the department and the University, and connecting all of those things through."
"This is a people business. If you don't know the people you're working with or that you're leading or are helping them try to achieve something, then your efforts will be in vain."
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.