Mack Rhoades is officially a Baylor Bear. The 11th athletic director in school history will start his new role on August 15th, taking over an athletic department in turmoil. Rhoades replaces Ian McCaw, who stepped down in the midst of a sexual assault scandal that involved the Baylor football team.
"I'm truly humbled to join the Baylor University family and will do all I can to ensure our mission of educating young men and women for world-wide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and a Christian commitment within a caring community is upheld each and every day" said Rhoades.
"I am a man of faith, a man of family, and a man who is inspired by working with young men and women in helping them become champions in life. It all begins with our deep devotion to Christianity bolstered by the incredible women I call my family."
Rhoades sat next to interim president David Garland, and answered a litany of questions about why he would come to Baylor and how he would engage in true change in the athletic department.
"Why Baylor? Baylor is a great institution, where there is the integration of faith, academic excellence and athletic excellence. Why Baylor? Waco, Texas. Because we believe it's a great place for our family to be, a wonderful community made up of very, very caring people," said Rhoades about the reasons to leave an SEC school in Missouri. It boiled down to opportunity, as Rhoades said several times. The opportunity to do something special at a place like Baylor.
"This is an opportunity. An opportunity where I can see what can be. An opportunity to help lead one of the world's leading Christian universities in our familiar Texas. A state where we came to love many, many years ago. A state where my grandfather, my hero, was born and raised. An opportunity to win national championships, to watch our student-athletes graduate, and to bear witness as they go on to do great things serving the world."
There is little doubt that he is leaving one athletic department in turmoil for another. That is easily displayed by the fact that an interim president was sitting next to him, and the athletic director job was open in the first place. Rhoades laid out his strategy for getting to know the people at Baylor better, and then forge ahead with the changes that need to be made.
"I'm going to talk to all of our staff, including all of our assistant coaches in terms of expectations and how we're going to work and work together. I think for that, for the existing staff, the best thing that they can do is do everything they can to put our student-athletes in a place to succeed. They will know that and they will understand that. At the appropriate time, you know, we will certainly evaluate as to where we head in the future."
While Rhoades will officially start on August 15th, his position with Baylor will be clear Tuesday as Baylor begins media day with acting head coach Jim Grobe. Rhoades will also be present when Baylor officials meet with the Big 12 conference to discuss the scandal and provide more details to the conference.
In the end, this was a positive day for Baylor, one where some level of certainty is known. They might have an interim president still, but the man responsible for calling the shots in the athletic department is in place and in charge.