After a nearly three-month wait, San Jose State named its next athletic director on Friday.
In a press conference held at the Student Union Theater, San Jose State University president Mary Papazian announced the hiring of Marie Tuite (TWO-it), the interim athletic director who took over following the reassignment of Gene Bleymaier. The announcement officially confirmed what Jon Wilner of The Mercury News, citing anonymous sources, tweeted on Friday morning.
“Marie Tuite has demonstrated a genuine commitment to the success of all students, to our university's mission, and to the principle that athletics should be woven into the fabric of the university,” said Papazian as quoted in San Jose State’s official announcement (video included).
Tuite’s previous experience includes assistant director of championships for the NCAA from 1989 to 1994 and senior associate athletic director at the University of Washington from 1994 to 2008. In 2010, Tuite became deputy director of athletics at San Jose State under then-athletic director Tom Bowen.
Twice, Tuite has served as interim athletic director, first from April to June 2012 between the administrations of Bowen and Bleymaier, then from February to May of this year. Her first stint included an important milestone for San Jose State, an invitation to the Mountain West Conference.
In her introductory remarks, Tuite expressed a commitment to academic excellence by San Jose State student-athletes.
“Athletics is under the umbrella of higher education, and most of us in this room keenly understand one of the greatest gifts our student-athletes will receive is a degree from San Jose State. As in previous years, we are committed to the academic mission of the university, and we will continue to be vigilant in our efforts for a 100% graduation rate,” said Tuite. Her remarks come after San Jose State had twelve athletic programs reach Academic Progress Rates of 980 or higher, a school record.
Now leading the athletic department in the long term, Tuite will face many challenges to come. Among them, men’s basketball head coach Dave Wojcik is entering the final year of his contract. Also, fundraising for the South Campus Master Plan remains incomplete—especially for long-anticipated renovations to the football stadium. Tuite touched on fundraising and connecting with alumni in her prepared remarks.
“In order to generate much-needed revenue streams, we must elevate the success of all our teams and create sustainable resources. It is imperative that football lead the way, and we are experiencing a new era of Spartan football,” said Tuite, in reference to the hiring of new head coach Brent Brennan.
“To future donors, please become part of a vibrant university under a president that is a game changer and an athletics program that is impacting the future leaders of America.” Echoing the football team’s new catchphrase, Tuite then said, “Let’s go.”
The only member of the media who asked a question was Mike Colgan of KCBS radio, who asked Tuite about being among the few women in the ranks of Division I athletic directors. However, student sports media outlet The Spear interviewed Tuite after the press conference.
The Spear also interviewed Brennan, who attended the press conference. “She’s worked with me every step of the way since I got hired…She’s tough, [and] she’s always got an opinion and a good angle on what we’re trying to get done with football,” said Brennan about Tuite.
Brennan later tweeted, “Fired up to work with [Tuite] to build something special!”
Student-athletes, alumni praise Tuite
Past and present student-athletes expressed their support for Tuite on Twitter. Andre Chachere, an incoming senior on the football team, called Tuite “the best in the business.”
Former football player Noel Grigsby tweeted: “[W]ell deserved. You have always been one of my favorites.”
Bene Benwikere, another former football player now with the Cincinnati Bengals, also tweeted praise for Tuite.
Rachol West, who recently completed her four-year career on the women’s basketball team, showed the way to pronounce the new athletic director’s name: “Get to it like Marie Tuite.”
Softball wins NCAA Tournament opener
In Los Angeles, San Jose State softball beat Cal State Fullerton 3-0 for the first NCAA Tournament win in program history. Papazian made sure to mention San Jose State softball's upcoming game in Friday afternoon's news conference. On Saturday, San Jose State will face regional host UCLA in the winners' bracket, after UCLA beat Lehigh 8-0 in five innings on Friday night.