Eastern Kentucky University has named Matt Roan as Director of Athletics after a two-month search process. Roan returns to EKU after three-plus years as Director of Athletics at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La.
“Eastern Kentucky University and the region it serves are special places for my family and me, and we are honored to be returning. We look forward to embracing EKU’s tradition and leading EKU Athletics to new heights, where we display excellence academically, in athletics, and in the community,” Roan said. “We will forever be grateful for our time at Nicholls and in that community. It is a special place full of special people, and we are indebted to them for all of their support.” Roan was a deputy director of athletics at EKU in 2015 and 2016, after serving as a special assistant to the president and working with the counsel’s office for two years. He earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky School of Law after a standout football career at Southern Utah University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a political science degree.
“Athletics are an extremely important component of our university which brings together our alumni, faculty, staff and community with the current student body, to pull for the Colonels,” said interim president Dr. David McFaddin. “In knowing and meeting with Matt, I believe he can help build those groups into a cohesive fan base that roots for the Colonels in athletic competition, while continuing to be stars in the classroom. His unique experience with multiple facets of the university and the student experience will be an asset to EKU.”
Roan will assume the duties from EKU interim Director of Athletics Mark Sandy in early February.
“Matt has lived the life of a student athlete and has had great academic success, which is something we found compelling in looking at many candidates,” said Heather Howell, an alumnus and former EKU volleyball player. “His previous experience in the OVC and most recent experience as a Director of Athletics in the Southland Conference were also major factors in bringing Matt back to EKU.”
Roan’s hire aligns with several of EKU’s core values, including being a school of opportunity and a destination institution for first-time students, many of which come from Appalachia. Roan is originally from southwest Virginia and along with his sister, was the first from his family to attend college.
“Kentucky and Appalachia are home to my family and me, and as a first-generation college student myself, EKU is the type of institution – a school of opportunity – I find most fulfilling and rewarding,” Roan said.
“Matt is uniquely qualified. He has had success as a sitting Athletics Director but has also held different roles in higher education, so he views the landscape through several lenses,” said Betina Gardner, vice president of development and alumni engagement, and chair of the search committee. “He has led campus-wide strategic planning processes and has experience developing policy. He has worked closely with faculty on different projects, which is experience that is very important to me. He has led successful fundraising initiatives which includes building partnerships with businesses in the community where he served.”
Nicholls State Athletics garnered accolades and showed significant success under Roan’s leadership. Student athletes at Nicholls State set school records for GPA the last three academic years. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the football and softball teams have either won conference championships or reached the post season under Roan’s leadership, with the women’s team making it to the first round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history in 2018, and the football team hosting playoff games three years in a row.
“This is an extremely important hire for EKU, and our Director of Athletics search committee, which was composed of faculty, staff and alumni who spent countless hours reviewing materials from more than 70 candidates,” said EKU regent and search committee member Laura Babbage. “We were pleased to have many qualified candidates, and Matt Roan stood out. I am confident Matt will be committed to partnering with our faculty, staff, students, student athletes and community as a steward of our athletics program. He will strive to win on the field and the court while continuing to push for improved academic success for student athletes.”
EKU has won six of the last eight Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner’s Cups, a symbol of overall athletic excellence in conference-sponsored championships.
Matt and his wife, Mallory, have two daughters, Gattlyn and Radley; and two sons, Catcher and Shepard. He will be introduced at a welcome reception open to the public at the EKU Center for the Arts at 10 am on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
About EKU Athletics:
EKU sponsors 16 varsity sports: baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, beach volleyball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, football, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s indoor track and field, women’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field, women’s outdoor track and field, women’s soccer, softball and volleyball. Broadcasts of EKU athletics events air live on ESPN+.
EKU student-athletes have combined for a 3.0 or higher grade-point-average in each of the last 16 semesters and student-athletes graduate at a rate of 88 percent, above the rate of the general student body.
EKU has won six of the last eight Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Commissioner’s Cups, a symbol of overall athletic excellence in conference-sponsored championships and has won eight OVC Academic Achievement Awards.
The Colonel football team has won two NCAA National Championships and the men’s basketball team has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Eastern Kentucky University has made approximately $20 million in facility improvements for multiple sports in recent years.