Wallace finds new home at Eastern

Thursday, July 17 2008

By: Bob Bajek/Sports Reporter

Posted: 7/17/08

Mary Wallace has been doing a balancing act between coaching women's track and field and working as senior women's administrator during the last three years.

By early July, the act concluded.

Wallace was hired as assistant athletic director, but had to give up her love of coaching in the process.

"I felt I could have a bigger impact at Eastern as an administrator," Wallace said.

New athletic director Barbara Burke offered Wallace the assistant athletic director job with one condition- becoming a full time administrator.

Wallace said giving up her coaching responsibility wasn't an easy decision, but she knew how hard it was devoting equal time to her team and the athletic department.

However, Wallace will also keep her position as senior women's administrator.

Last year, she was on the search committee for the new athletic director, in which the added responsibility made her feel spread thin.

"Sometimes I would leave a potential candidate while in the middle of a meeting to make the team bus," Wallace said. "I was not able to split myself into two (people) so one could coach and the other administrate."

Wallace said the women's track team was initially upset with her leaving. However, the Panthers thought the change was beneficial for their coach.

"They realized (later) what it means to my career," Wallace said.

As assistant athletic director, Wallace would have oversight of the men and women's basketball teams, volleyball, softball and women's rugby. She will also be in charge of personnel hiring and will be the campus liaison for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Wallace's main senior women's administrative duty is to oversee gender equity reports for the NCAA. She works to make sure Eastern is in compliance with Title IX.

Search underway

Director of track and field Tom Akers has initiated a search committee to fill Wallace's vacant position by mid-August and no later than early September.

Akers, also the men's head coach, will be assisted in his search by cross country head coach Geoff Masanet, assistant track coach JaRod Tobler and Education Activities Coordinator Cindy Kennedy.

"You always worry 'are you going to get someone who is going to do a good job like her?'" Akers said.

Wallace's position is being advertised as assistant head coach. Akers said it was a decision that he made with Burke to have less confusion because track and cross country had three head coaches.

There will now be one coach for men's and women's track and field, Akers, and one coach for men's and women's cross country, Masanet.The search committee is looking for someone who will have the same philosophy as Eastern's program, Akers said, which is to foster team-oriented attitudes and develop athletes physically and emotionally.

The search committee will be reviewing resumes and applications this week, Akers said. Next week, the committee will compare thoughts on each candidate, call references and have phone interviews with the candidates.

One thing the committee doesn't want to do is hire a candidate without going through all the procedures.

"Obviously, the sooner the better but you don't want to jump the gun in a knee jerk reaction," Akers said.


Bob Bajek can be reached at 581-7944 or at rtbajek@eiu.edu.

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