The athletic director of MissouriWestern for the last five years, Mark Linder, has decided to travel back to his home state of Alabama to take the job as athletic director for the University of North Alabama.
â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™ll be the end of the world for Missouri Western athletics,â€ Linder said. â€œI think any time there is a change of staffing, it gives the school an opportunity to get better. My departure brings forth that opportunity.â€
Linder leaves for a Division 1-AA school with more money to spend and better facilities to work with, but the biggest reason he applied for the job of North Alabamaâ€™s athletic director was to be closer to his immediate family. Linder was born in Gadsden, Alabama, which is about an hour away from the University of North Alabama campus.
Linder first came to Missouri Western as a Compliance Coordinator in 1999, worked his way up to assistant athletic director and by 2003 he was named the top man of sports at Missouri Western.
â€œMy time at Western has been great,â€ said Linder. â€œMissouri Western will be a special place to me and the school has been great to the Linder family.â€
Linder didnâ€™t leave for any higher paying job put in front of him at a higher division school. The decision was based on the overall sense of community and the ability of the school he was leaving to compete for championships.
â€œThere are some D-1 jobs out there that a person can take but never have the opportunity to play for a championship,â€ Linder said. â€œMy motivations come down to winning; losing wouldnâ€™t be fun for me.â€
In the last two years he has seen Western teams flourish under his watchful eye. The football team and baseball team made the playoffs for the first time in school history, the womenâ€™s basketball team was one of the best teams in the nation last year, a new womenâ€™s soccer program was put together, the softball team has qualified for the NCAA tournament in each of the last two years and the volleyball team made the NCAAs two years ago.
One of the new coaches on campus,Tiffany Mastin, whom Linder helped bring to Missouri Western, will miss his presence around campus as she starts her first year as head coach of the womenâ€™s volleyball team.
â€œIâ€™ve only been here six months, but the school that I just came from didnâ€™t have an athletic director that was as supportive or goal oriented as Mark (Linder) was,â€ Mastin. said â€œIâ€™m sad to see him go, but it is a great opportunity
In addition to the successes on the field, Mark Linder had a huge part in the Max
Experience. He held forums in order to show what the Max Experience would do for the casual student. This allowed for the issue to pass. Once it did, he watched over the new field turf project, the free food and drinks at sporting events and the still in progress new basketball gym floor.
â€œOne of my best experiences at Western was working on the Max Experience,â€ said Linder. â€œThe students and staff members here were great to work with on the project.â€
The search for a new athletic director started once Linder announced that he would move on to a new job and the school hopes to have another athletic director in place by the beginning of October.
Linder said he hopes the new athletic director is welcomed with open arms and meshes well with the staff. He hopes the next athletic director has a great vision and is able to take this program to another level.
Missouri Western, itâ€™s time to recruit a new athletic director. Mark Linder was great for this school, but heâ€™s moved on. Itâ€™s time for the athletic program to do the same by hiring a well-qualified individual with has big plans for our school to improve life here. So get to it.