Leadership transitions in athletics

Leah Ulatowski, Copy Editor

Lakeland College has decided not to hire a new athletic director but rather appoint a team of leaders from existent staff and faculty to oversee the department.

“This leadership structure provides a level of stability at a time when there has been a lot of instability institutionally and departmentally,” Nate Dehne, vice president for student development and athletics, said.

The instability Dehne refers to would be the major leadership transitions the institution underwent in spring 2013, which included the resignations of former Lakeland College president Michael A. Grandillo and former athletic director and pro football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow.

Arvan, associate athletic director, served as interim athletic director following Winslow’s resignation, but as a full time associate professor of exercise science and sport studies, it was clear the position would only be temporary.

“We had three candidates for athletic director in the summer and all three of them were great, but there wasn’t a clear cut match for us,” Dehne said, “So, rather than make a hire and not feel a hundred percent comfortable with it, we decided to develop a leadership team of known commodities to take on the leadership responsibilities.”

Under the new structure, Dehne will provide the leadership and vision for the department while Arvan will oversee compliance efforts and student-athlete development.

Aaron Aanonsen, the college’s head men’s basketball coach, will continue to serve as an assistant athletic director and Mike DeRoehn, the college’s head wrestling coach, has been promoted to assistant athletic director.

Although each member of the leadership team has other responsibilities on campus, Dehne says they have carefully divided up the duties of a full time athletic director in a way that best meets the student body’s needs.

“I am confident there will not be a compromise of the standard we have for athletics,” Arvan assured.

While the development of this leadership team has provided a sense of stability, the big question on campus is whether or not this will be a temporary or permanent fix.

“If the coaching staff, the athletes, and the general student body are taken care of in terms of their expectations and needs, then we will keep going,” Dehne said.

Dehne and Arvan are reluctant to call this semester a trial period for the new leadership team as it implies uncertainty. Dehne compares the team to any individual athletic director in saying they will be assessed and changes will be made if necessary, although they do not foresee any problems.

“Time will tell. We have to do our jobs; we have to do them well. There is no room for error,” Arvan said.


It would seem the familiarity of the leaders has contributed to a positive consensus of the new structure among student athletes, especially after a time a great instability last semester.


“I feel very comfortable with the new leadership team,” Noah Ross, senior exercise science major and Lakeland football player, said. “They know most of the student athletes already and work great with students. They have a great passion for student athletes and really show us great support.”