By Josh Brody in Sports
After a void was left in the athletic department last fall, athletic director Ann Walker quickly realized the importance of having an assistant.
Former assistant athletic director Charlie Warner left to work at a non-profit organization on Oct. 1, forcing Walker and senior secretary Marla Derrick to take on more. “Marla and I were overloaded,” Walker said.
Enter Chris Jacob.
Clark hired Jacob, 25, from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a former employer of Walker. He officially started on Jan. 7.
Jacob ran track at NSU where he majored in computer information systems. After his track career ended, he began working as athletic academic director.
Despite knowing Jacob before he was hired, Walker said the traits he brought were the biggest factor in his hiring.
“The edge that he had was not our relationship so much as it was everything that he could bring to the table,” Walker said. “The benefit is that we know each other’s work style, and the transition has been seamless.”
Jacob will be handling academic eligibility and compliance work according to Walker. Recently his biggest challenge has been transitioning from Division II rules to NWAC guidelines.
“It’s slight differences but I want to make sure that all of these student athletes are getting fair treatment,” Jacob said.
With the addition of Jacob, Walker and Derrick plan on higher efficiency within the department, breathing life back into programs like sponsorships, the Penguin Athletic Club and Clark’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jacob feels that it’s necessary to first emulate his mentors in aiding student athletes to success outside of college.
“I had a lot of mentors when I was in the same position they (the students) are in, and their number one goal for me was to be successful after my athletic career,” Jacob said.
Student athletes feel pressure on the court and in the classroom. Shantell Jackson, guard for the Penguins, said that a five hour study hall is required by head coach Al Aldridge for all women’s basketball players with a GPA lower than 3.5, on top of the required 12 credits per quarter to be eligible to play.
Being a track athlete at NSU, Jacob knows the stress student athletes can be subjected to.
“He understands where they are coming from. He understands the demands of being both athlete and student, [and] the pressure from coaches and fans,” Walker said. “He can relate to what a student athlete is going through.”
Jacob sees Clark as the perfect starting point, with dreams of one day becoming a Division I athletic director.
“Ann is a great mentor,” Jacob said. “I know I am going to make mistakes, but I will overcome them and learn from them.”
In the near future, Walker expects improvements throughout the athletic department with the addition of Jacob. Getting fans to come to games is one of his top priorities according to Jacob.
“There is nothing more exciting as a student athlete than going into a gym and seeing it full of fans ready to see them play.”