Bruce Van De Velde, Louisiana Tech University's athletics director since 2010, has announced he will step down from his position, effective July 1.
Van De Velde, who joined the Louisiana Tech athletics department in 2008 as deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, and was promoted to athletics director in March 2010, will remain with the university in a non-administrative, support capacity through the term of his current contract, which ends in February 2014. Mary Kay Hungate, deputy athletics director and senior woman administrator, will serve as the interim athletics director until a replacement for Van De Velde is named.
"My experience at Louisiana Tech has been both rewarding and challenging," said Van De Velde. "I am proud of my contributions to the competitive and academic success of our student-athletes and coaches, and to have enhanced a culture of honesty, integrity, competitive and academic excellence within the athletic department."
During Van De Velde's tenure as athletics director, Louisiana Tech has enjoyed success both athletically and academically. He led the hiring of head football coach Sonny Dykes in 2010 and head men's basketball coach Mike White in 2011, both of who coached their respective teams to top 25 national rankings this past season and selections as WAC Coach of the Year. Most recently, he hired new head football coach Skip Holtz, who replaced Dykes following his departure last December.
Van De Velde has also led a program that has had no major NCAA rules infractions during his tenure as AD and achieved a student-athlete graduate success rate of 76 percent in 2012 – the highest in Louisiana Tech history and one of the top graduation rates in the nation. All 16 men's and women's programs are currently penalty free with several having achieved their highest APR scores within the past few years.
"We appreciate all that Bruce has done for Louisiana Tech and the success that our programs have had under his leadership," said Louisiana Tech President Dan Reneau. "His contributions as Athletics Director have been valuable and he has enhanced many aspects of our intercollegiate athletics program. We are pleased that Bruce has agreed to remain with Louisiana Tech and continue assisting us in the advancement of our institution."
From a facilities standpoint, Van De Velde led improvements to the soccer, baseball and softball complexes, and helped to initiate the Quest for Excellence campaign to raise private funds for the construction of a multi-purpose facility at the south end of Joe Aillet Stadium. The facility will provide student-athletes and coaches as well as members of the campus community with access to athletic training and wellness facilities, and office, conference and hospitality space.
Reneau said that Louisiana Tech will immediately begin the process of forming a search committee, led by incoming Louisiana Tech President Les Guice, to find the best possible candidates to assume leadership of the athletics department.
"We will conduct this search with a focus on identifying candidates that share our vision and philosophies regarding intercollegiate athletics, its responsibility to our student-athletes and supporters, and its overall role within the university," said Guice. "Our committee will be thorough yet timely in the vetting of candidates to ensure the momentum that Louisiana Tech Athletics has built over the past several years is not diminished."
Louisiana Tech and its 16 men's and women's teams are currently preparing for their inaugural season in Conference USA. The new conference affiliation will provide Louisiana Tech with greatly enhanced national television coverage and new opportunities to establish regional rivalries.