Hatfield Clubb becomes Drake athletic director

Updated: May 31, 2006, 4:05 PM ET
Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa -- After 16 years in the Pac-10 and one year spent working alongside one of the nation's top female athletic directors, Sandy Hatfield Clubb says she's thrilled to take over as Drake's new A.D. -- and ready for the challenge that comes with being the first woman to run a Division 1 program in Iowa.

Hatfield Clubb, an associate A.D. at Arizona State, was introduced as Drake's new athletic director at a news conference Wednesday on the Drake campus.

She will become one of 25 women athletic directors at the 334 schools with Division I basketball. She succeeds Dave Blank, who announced in February he accepted the athletic director job at Elon University in North Carolina.

Hatfield Clubb, who will take over Aug. 1, said spending the last year working under Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love was an empowering experience that helped pave the way for her own big break.

"It taught me a little bit more of what I needed to know to be a director of athletics as a woman," Hatfield Clubb said. "I've had wonderful mentors along the way who have coached me to see that as a strength."

Drake President David Maxwell called her a "perfect" choice to focus on academic and athletic achievement. He added that he received an e-mail from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who had Hatfield Clubb on his staff during his tenure in Tucson, praising the hire as one that will move Division 1 athletics forward -- and send a strong message nationally.

"We now have found somebody very, very special, someone who understands the special role of athletics in an institution with high expectations for its students and itself," Maxwell said of Hatfield Clubb. "She's a nationally known, highly respected figure in Division 1 athletics and the fact that she's chosen to join us at Drake has created reverberations around the country."

Drake, a private school, has not disclosed the financial details of Hatfield Clubb's contract.

Hatfield Clubb joined Arizona State in 1990 as a management intern and worked her way to senior associate athletic director in 2002. She also served as the school's senior woman administrator to the Pacific-10 Conference and the NCAA.

Drake considered more than 40 applicants to replace Blank, who headed the school's sports department since 2000. The other two finalists included Wayne State (Mich.) athletic director Robert Fournier and Truman State (Mo.) athletic director Jerry Wollmering, a 1987 Drake graduate.

One of Hatfield Clubb's main responsibilities will be trying to turn around Drake's moribund men's basketball program. The Bulldogs have racked up 19 straight losing seasons and rank a distant fourth in their own state, behind Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa.

Hatfield Clubb has already spoken with assistant coach Keno Davis -- the eventual successor to current coach Tom Davis -- about what needs to be done to right the Bulldogs' ship.

"Building a program takes time," Hatfield Clubb said. "We talked about adjusting the fan culture and start moving in that winning way. One of things we need to do is fill up the stands. We need to make sure every seat is full."

Drake teams are in a unique situation. The school resides in the state's biggest city, but Iowa and Iowa State fans often outnumber Bulldogs backers in their own backyard.

Hatfield Clubb doesn't plan on accepting that once she takes over.

"I can't wait to take on Iowa and Iowa State," Hatfield Clubb said. "We've just got to get out there and get it done."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press