By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
Another finalist for Missouri Western State University Athletic Director has spoken to supporters on the St. Joseph campus.
Illinois State University Executive Associate Athletic Director Dwight Merilatt made his pitch during a public forum at the Fulkerson Center today, a day after Franklin Pierce Athletic Director Rachel Burleson met with supporters.
Merilatt tells reporters afterward the position is very attractive.
“First of all, it’s a great institution, a great athletic department,” Merilatt says. “It’s in a great town and I think it has a great opportunity to continue to excel and be a big part of this community.”
Merilatt served as Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs at the University of Evansville from 2007 to 2015 and spent six years as Eastern Kentucky Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Corporate partnerships.
Illinois State is a much larger, NCAA Division I school, but Merilatt insists his experience transcends DI, DII, or DIII divisions.
Merilatt says an Athletic Director is an advocate for student-athletes, coaches, and staff. He says the position also requires fundraising skills, which he says he has demonstrated during this career.
Merilatt says he spearheads community engagement at Illinois State, which he describes as aggressive.
“We see that that engagement enables us to get different people on our campus, which I think is so important that you get everyone from the community to come to your campus,” Merilatt says. “We try to do that from a grassroots standpoint. We want to go out. We want to make sure people understand that Missouri Western is an inviting and great place to be for an athletic event.”
Merilatt says success in athletics is more than just counting up the wins.
“Are your student-athletes graduating? Are they having a great, higher education experience and are they being competitive on the field or on the court? Those are the three fundamental things, but as I stated today, my number one goal is to have student-athletes graduate,” Merilatt says.
South Dakota Mines Athletic Director Joel Lueken is scheduled to meet with supporters Thursday.
Missouri Western is seeking a successor to Josh Looney who left for a similar position at North Alabama.