Lochmueller Brings "Unique Skill Set" as New Athletics Director

Lochmueller photo

Steve Lochmueller, already a familiar name to many Kentuckians, brings an entrepreneurial vision, business savvy and proven leadership skills in diverse settings as the next Director of Athletics at Eastern Kentucky University.

In announcing the decision on Friday, March 27, EKU President Michael Benson said Lochmueller’s “unique skill set” makes him ideally suited for the position.

“Steve is the son of a former student-athlete, coach and teacher; played college basketball at the highest level under legendary coaches; and has served on various athletics-affiliated boards,” Benson noted. “He has been around athletics his entire life in many different roles and understands the broad spectrum that is intercollegiate athletics. Add to that his extensive business experience and his vast array of contacts within the Commonwealth and beyond, and I believe we have in Steve Lochmueller a leader who can imbue our athletics operation with a business mindset focused on resource and revenue generation.”

Lochmueller will start in April, with an annual base salary of $180,000. He succeeds Mark Sandy, who resigned earlier this year to take a similar position at Ball State University.

Most of Lochmueller’s career has been spent as an executive in the telecommunications field. He has served as general manager for GTE Telecommunications, vice president and general manager for Horizon Cellular, vice president for Pre-Cellular, area general manager for Nextel Partners, regional vice president for Leap Wireless, and chief operating officer, president and chief executive officer for Lightyear Network Solutions. He also served from 1992 to 1993 as a liaison for technology and communications with the Kentucky Governor’s Office and CEO and owner of Sumerset Houseboats from 2003 to 2009. Currently, as president of Direct Attention Inc., he provides consulting services to several clients in various fields.

“I’m honored to be the next Athletics Director at EKU,” Lochmueller said. “President Benson has infused EKU with an energy that is palpable around the Commonwealth and beyond. I cannot express how excited I am to join the Colonel Nation. It is a program with a rich championship history and enormous future potential.

“Among my first priorities will be to bolster our already strong leadership team to make sure we have the necessary administrative structure in place to achieve our lofty goals,” Lochmueller added. “We will aim to give our coaches the necessary resources to build and sustain championship programs with student-athletes who make us proud in the classroom, on the playing fields and courts, and in the community.”

Benson extended his “sincere thanks to Dan McBride, a longtime and faithful Colonel, for his leadership as Interim Athletics Director. He and many others within the Department helped guide our program in recent months as we conducted this important search.”

Lochmueller, one of the last players to participate in both basketball and football at UK, was a member of the University’s famed 1971 “Super Kittens” recruiting class, which was undefeated as freshmen and ranked No. 1 in the nation. The 6-foot-7 center/forward helped lead his Wildcat teams to an SEC regular-season championship and NCAA Elite Eight during his career. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in general studies from UK. A native of Tell City, Ind., an Ohio River community just east of Owensboro, Lochmueller is a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Lochmueller also has been very active in civic affairs. He is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Lexington Chamber of Commerce; The Child Development Centers of the Bluegrass, which he served as treasurer and vice president; the Kentucky Chapter of the Leukemia Society of America; The Kentucky Council on Economic Education; University of Kentucky Athletics; University of Kentucky Basketball Museum; Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation; The Houseboat Industry Association; and the National Marine Manufacturers Association. In addition, he was appointed by Gov. Paul Patton as a member of the board working with Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lambert to nominate new judges in Fayette County. He was also chairman of the board of the statewide Commercial Mobile Radio Systems (CMRS) E911. Most recently, he served on the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce board for six years and on the iHigh Inc. Board of Directors.

Nick Perlick, vice president for development and alumni relations at EKU, chaired the seven-member search committee that narrowed the field from more than 60 candidates attracted via a national search down to four finalists who visited the campus in March.

“I want to thank the search committee for its outstanding work as well as all those who participated in the process, including the many from the campus and community who attended the open forums to hear the finalists and share their own hopes and dreams for EKU Athletics,” Perlick said. “I am eager to welcome Steve to EKU and partner with him to advance our great University and Colonel Athletics.”

The other finalists were: Jude A. Killy, senior associate athletics director for external operations at Miami University (Ohio); Derrick Ramsey, director of athletics at Coppin State University; and Christopher Walker, associate athletics director for development at Washington State University. Each finalist spent two days on EKU’s Richmond campus for a series of meetings and forums.

One member of that search committee, Dr. Sheila Pressley, associate professor of environmental health sciences and faculty athletics representative, said Lochmueller “understands that athletics is an important component of our academic campus. He has the necessary skills and background to build incredible external relationships that will improve athletics and Eastern Kentucky University as an institution.”

College Football Hall of Fame Coach Roy Kidd, whose teams won 314 games and two national I-AA titles from 1964 to 2002, is likewise excited for the future of EKU Athletics. “I was really impressed with Steve,” Kidd said. “As a person, as a coach’s son, as a former Division I athlete and as an experienced business leader, he will be a heck of an asset for the University.”

Competing at the NCAA Division I level (FCS for football), EKU offers 17 varsity sports and earned the Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner’s Cup, awarded to the best overall performance in conference competition, in 2011-12 and again in 2013-14.

At the national level, EKU teams have qualified for 19 NCAA championship events spanning the last 10 years. The Colonel football team reached the NCAA FCS playoffs four times, including a trip this past fall, while the men’s basketball team danced in the NCAA tournament in 2007 and 2014. Meanwhile, the men’s cross country team has been a fixture at the NCAA championship meet four years running.

EKU’s student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom. In the most recent NCAA Academic Progress Report (APR) released in the spring of 2014, Eastern Kentucky boasted several quality rankings. Ten programs – men’s basketball, men’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s golf, soccer, softball, women’s tennis, men’s indoor track & field, men’s outdoor track & field, and volleyball – received perfect scores of 1,000 on the APR for the 2012-13 academic year. This past fall term, the all-athlete GPA was 3.12, which marked the sixth consecutive semester the all-athlete term GPA was above a 3.0.

The University’s commitment to excellence on the fields and courts of competition and to the academic success of its student-athletes continues, Benson said.

“EKU Athletics will continue to focus on being wholly compliant, graduating our student athletes who represent EKU in the best possible light, and being competitive in every single sport,” Benson said. “But Steve will also help us focus on the importance of making our athletic department more sustainable while providing additional opportunities for our student athletes.”

Lochmueller currently resides in Lexington with his wife, Christi, and their twin children, Chase and Presley. He also has a grown daughter and son-in-law, Whitney and Steve Lawson, and one grandson, Jake.

Published on March 27, 2015

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