Lamar University athletic director resigns; Norman Bellard named interim
Lamar University athletic director Jason Henderson resigned from his position Monday morning after five years on the job, KFDM/FOX4 has learned.
Henderson spent a year as interim AD before being named LU's Director of Athletics on June 18, 2012.
The job put Henderson in charge of day-to-day operations of the university's 17 men's and women's athletic programs.
In his previous role as associate AD, Henderson was credited with playing a major role in bringing back Cardinal football in 2010 and adding the women's soccer and softball programs.
Henderson was also a key figure in planning the Dauphin Athletics Complex and updating the Provost Umphrey Stadium and the construction of the LU soccer/softball complex.
The university later announced that Cardinal sports legend Norman Bellard was appointed interim athletic director:
With the appointment today of Cardinal sports legend Norman Bellard ’79 as interim athletic director, Lamar University is prepared to build on recent successes and strive for new achievements in athletics.
The recent Southland Conference championship and NCAA tournament berth by LU soccer, the National Invitational Softball Championship finals appearance from LU Softball, a strong showing by both men’s and women’s Cardinal cross country in the recent NCAA regionals, two consecutive years of top-ranked recruiting classes for Lamar baseball, strong seasons predicted for men’s and women’s basketball, and cause for optimism for the Cardinals on the gridiron – all of these and more give Bellard reason to be excited as he takes on his new responsibilities. “My primary goal will be to continue to put a quality product on the fields and courts that is attractive to the community, both on campus and beyond,” said Bellard.
In addition, Bellard places a high priority on academic accomplishments for Lamar student-athletes. “We do a good job on graduation rates,” Bellard noted, “so success in the classroom will remain very important in all sports.” He cited academic progress rates (APR) of several sports, including baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s golf, and women’s soccer, as evidence that Lamar is heading in the right direction both academically and athletically. Those teams in particular at LU “are near the top in our conference and among Texas universities [in APR], and they are trending upwards,” Bellard added.
Also on Bellard’s wish list are upgrades to athletic facilities, including the Montagne Center, Vincent-Beck Stadium, and Provost Umphrey Stadium. Plans are in the works for basketball locker room improvements as well as enhancements for student-athletes and spectators alike at Cardinal baseball games, while other changes are on the drawing board as well. “These upgrades will not be possible without the help and support of our generous Cardinal fans, Lamar alumni, and athletic boosters,” Bellard emphasized. “With the help of our coaches and administration, I look forward to sharing my vision with our community, alumni, and friends.”
“Norman Bellard’s involvement with Lamar University, as a student-athlete, distinguished alumnus, Cardinals fan, and as a long-standing member of our staff, makes him uniquely qualified to serve as interim Athletic Director,” said Lamar University President Ken Evans. “We look forward to his leadership and vision as we move forward at this moment of unprecedented opportunities for Lamar University Athletics.” A full national search will begin immediately for a permanent athletic director.
Bellard will continue as assistant to the president for community relations and athletics program liaison, a position he has held since March 1, 2015. He has served in numerous leadership roles in the university that had a direct impact on student life and student engagement including senior associate vice president for student affairs, interim vice president for student affairs, and senior associate vice president for residence life. Prior to coming to Lamar, Bellard served for 10 years as chief financial officer for Conn’s Appliance Incorporated.