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Evangel University names new Athletic Director

Published on Jun 25, 2015 by Paul K. Logsdon


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Dennis McDonald, a 1984 Evangel University graduate, has been named the new athletic director at Evangel following a year-long search. He returns to his alma mater following a stellar career in public school education and administration. He will start on Monday, August 3, 2015.

McDonald will be the first full-time athletic director for Evangel to follow the 32-year tenure of Dr. David Stair, an NAIA Hall of Fame member who retired July 15, 2014.

“Following such a great leader as Dr. Stair is humbling,” he said. “I am honored to be chosen for this position, and I am extremely excited about returning to Evangel. With my history here, I have a passion to see the university advance.”

McDonald takes over for Brenton Illum, who served as the interim athletic director during the 2014-15 school year. Illum will remain as head football coach.

“We are delighted to welcome Dennis back to Evangel as our new director of athletics,” said Dr. Carol Taylor, president. “Dennis has established a solid reputation as a leader who inspires his teachers, staff and students to excel. He is innovative, collaborative and has a clear vision for the role of athletics within a university. We are confident that he is the right man for this time in Evangel’s history.”

McDonald is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership and will defend his treatise (dissertation) on June 30 at Dallas Baptist University.

He earned a B.S. in Physical Education & Health from Evangel in 1984; a Master of Secondary School Administration from Missouri State University in 1990; and a Specialist in Educational Leadership from Valdosta State University in 1996.

McDonald met his wife, Shannon (Swink ’89), at Evangel. They have two children — a married daughter, Meghan Reed, who is a 2013 Evangel graduate; and a son, Nathan, who will be a senior in high school this fall.

Career path

McDonald transferred as a student-athlete to Evangel in the fall of 1980 and was a three-year letterman for the Crusader football team. He was elected captain of the 1983 squad, and was named the “Most Promising Physical Education Graduate” in 1984.

Following graduation, he taught for two years in his hometown of Valdosta, Ga. There, he served as varsity scout for the team that won a Georgia AAAA state championship (1986) with 15-0 record.

McDonald returned to Springfield from 1986-1993, where he served Evangel as an assistant football coach, the strength and conditioning coordinator, and an assistant professor of physical education. He was on the coaching staff during the Crusaders NAIA semi-final season in 1988.

Since 1993, McDonald has taught, coached and served in public school leadership positions for 22 years, with continuously escalating areas of responsibility.

He has been a high school principal, an athletic director and for the past 13 years, has served as principal of Staley Middle School in Frisco, Texas, a campus with an enrollment of 710 students.

Dr. Rick Reedy, superintendent of the Frisco Independent School District (ret.) praised his work.

“Evidence of Mr. McDonald’s ability to mold educators is the fact that seven teachers that he hired as principal are now serving in that role themselves,” said Reedy. “He has a deft hand at molding and shaping teachers and administrators in both the art and science of schooling.”

The return

McDonald’s immediate goal is to develop quality relationships with those in the department and university leadership.

“I want to learn the goals and vision of the administration, the head coaches and the academic department heads,” he said. “Then, collaboratively, we will develop plans for our programs. I want to work side-by-side with them to establish our future with the best interest of the student-athletes in mind.”

Steve Jenkins, EU head basketball and golf coach, has known McDonald since he arrived as a student.

“Dennis McDonald bleeds Evangel maroon,” said Jenkins. “He has a passion for the university, our mission and our athletic programs. He will make sure we equip our student-athletes to be successful both in the classroom and on the playing field or court.”

Evangel’s athletics leadership history

McDonald will become just the fifth full-time director of athletics in Evangel’s 60-year history.

Dr. Donald Pearson was the university’s first athletic director and served from 1955 to 1971. Richard Moon followed him from 1972-74; and Aundrae Curtis was Evangel’s third athletic director, serving from 1974 to 1981.

Dr. Stair joined the faculty and coaching staff at Evangel in 1976, and he served as director of athletics from 1982 to 2014.
Coach Illum stepped in as the interim director of athletics for the 2014-15 school year.

“We are grateful for Brenton Illum’s service during this time of transition,” said Dr. Mike McCorcle, interim provost and V.P. for academic affairs. “He made personal and professional sacrifices to take on the additional responsibilities of athletic director and was instrumental in key advancements for the department.”

Under Illum’s leadership, the university launched a much-needed website dedicated to Evangel athletics. He also completed Stair’s work in bringing intercollegiate soccer back to Evangel, including the hiring of head coaches for both the men’s and women’s programs.