AD Housel Announces His Retirement

Auburn's long-time athletic director is stepping down.

Auburn, Ala.--Athletic Director David Housel announced on Tuesday that he will step down as athletic director at the end of the current year and retire from Auburn University in early 2006.

Since graduating from AU in 1969 with a degree in journalism, Housel has worked in variety of capacities at the university. He has served as a journalism instructor, a ticket office assistant manager, The Plainsman adviser, assistant director of sports information, sports information director and assistant athletic director before he was promoted to athletic director. He began working in the athletic department as a student volunteer shortly after enrolling at AU in 1965.

One of the most well-known administrators in AU history, Housel has been under fire from AU alumni and fans for participating in a secret meeting with board of trustees members and Louisville head football coach Bobby Petrino the week of the 2003 Auburn vs. Alabama game. Head football coach Tommy Tuberville survived an attempt to replace him as head coach and Housel and the others involved in the incident apologized.

Housel and board of trustees Earlon McWhorter and Byron Franklin joined former AU president Dr. William Walker and Housel as they flew on an airplane for a secret meeting at a small airport in Indiana with Petrino. The plane was owned by Colonial Bank, the company run by the university's most influential board of trustee member, Bobby Lowder of Montgomery.

Housel, who is 58 years old, is a former chairman of the NCAA Public Relations and Communications Committees. He is the past president of the SEC Sports Information Directors Association. He is currently a member of the NCAA Championships Cabinet and the Executive Committee of the Southeastern Conference.

Housel has written two books on Auburn athletics--Saturdays To Remember and From the Desk of David Housel. A former editor of Auburn's award-winning football game program, he still writes a column for the program called Auburn Football Illustrated.

Housel's contract with the AU runs through June of 2008, but he says because of his intention to retire in 2006 and his desire for a smooth transition that he began discussions of his planned retirement last year with Walker and continued them with interim president Ed Richardson, finalizing an agreement in Atlanta last week at the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament.

"I have planned to retire in 2006 for some time," Housel said in his announcement. "That is less than two years away, and it doesn't make sense to have a contract longer than I plan to work. By finalizing my plans now, there will be plenty of time for a search and plenty of time to ensure a smooth transition. A smooth, almost seamless transition is important to the on-going success and stability of the athletic department, and I very much want that to happen.

"Why 2006?," Housel added. "There are several reasons. I turn 60 in 2006 and I have planned to retire at 60 for some time. Secondly, and more importantly, virtually all of our major agreements will be coming up for renewal shortly after 2006, the corporate partner program, apparel rights and multi-media rights. Those are decisions that should be made by an athletic director who is going to be here for those years, not by an athletic director who is at or approaching retirement. An AD who is approaching retirement shouldn't impose his or her thinking on the program for the next 5 to 10 years. The new AD should do that."

After stepping down as athletic director in January, Housel's new assignments will be to assist with the transition, helping in the completion of the NCAA certification process and assisting in the fund raising campaigns for both Tigers Unlimited and the university.

"I am pleased that David's service to the university as athletic director and his unquestioned dedication to Auburn will continue to benefit the University for the remainder of this year," Dr. Richardson said. "His selflessness and loyalty are clearly reflected in his four decades of service to Auburn. I am positive that David will be of great assistance during our fund raising campaign and know that he will serve well in that capacity until his retirement."

During his tenure as athletic director, Auburn has won 29 Southeastern Conference titles and five national championships, achieved the highest athletic graduation rates since statistics were started in that areas and AU has not had an operating deficit in any of his years as athletic director.

Auburn is currently in the largest, most comprehensive facilities enhancement program in its history. Within the last 10 years, every sport at Auburn has received either a new facility or a major renovation and improvement of its existing facility. A new track and field is under construction and a new tennis complex is scheduled to start construction later this year. Additions and renovations were just completed at Plainsman Park for baseball and Jordan-Hare Stadium is underdoing a major renovation that will be completed following the 2005 football season. Construction is under way for a new academic center for AU athletes that is scheduled to be completed in August.

Auburn's coaching staffs were brought up to NCAA limits for the first time during his tenure.

"I have been truly blessed to be a part of Auburn for these 39 years," Housel said, "four as a student and 35 as an employee. I have been privileged to be a part of some incredible moments and to meet, get to know and work with some incredible people, both here at Auburn, at other institutions and throughout intercollegiate athletics. For those opportunities and privileges, I will be forever grateful.

"My only goal in taking this job 10 years ago was to leave the athletic department better than I found it, and I believe it is better now than it was 10 years ago."

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