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Howdeshell Stresses Value of Collaboration in Honoring Past and Building for the Future in UCM Intercollegiate Athletics

By Jeff Murphy, May 15, 2023



The University of Central Missouri's new Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Matt Howdeshell spoke at a press conference on campus May  12 after being introduced by UCM President Roger Best (left). (Photo courtesy of UCM Intercollegiate Athletics)


WARRENSBURG, MO – Returning to his Missouri roots, Matt Howdeshell, the University of Central Missouri’s new Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, addressed members of the campus and Warrensburg communities during a press conference May 12 at the Multipurpose Building. In his remarks, he stressed the importance of developing strong relationships on campus, and with alumni, donors and the local community to build an athletic department for the future.

The press conference followed an announcement on May 8 of Howdeshell’s appointment by UCM President Roger Best, who introduced him during his first public presentation in Warrensburg. Another opportunity for community members to meet the new Athletics leader took place the following day at Player’s Restaurant. Howdeshell begins his new duties at UCM on June 19.

In his press conference remarks, Best stressed the importance of hiring a new Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics amid a changing landscape in
collegiate sports.

“It is no secret that we are in the midst of a significant transformation within intercollegiate athletics,” he said. “Name, image and likeness, coupled with the transfer portal, have created de facto free agency; the mental well-being of collegiate athletics has been featured prominently in the national news; substantial conference alignment continues to occur; Division I initiatives are altering the Division II landscape at an accelerating rate; and the NCAA has even been operating with a Transformation Committee.”

While UCM did not ask for any of these changes, they exist none-the-less. And, with them come other challenges and changes which could have a profound impact on UCM and its ability to compete, Best told the gathering.

“And so it was, with all this as the backdrop, that I launched on March 6 a national search for our next Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics,” he said.
“At UCM, we have great athletics staff who support great coaches who in turn recruited great student-athletes. Thus, our next Vice President not only had to be able to succeed in a rapidly changing competitive environment, this person also had to be able to ensure the student-athlete experience was superior, and that our coaches and staff would have access to the resourced needed to both support and to lead to victory our student athletes. This person had to be able to build upon and sustain our tremendous athletics reputation and successes.”

Best said Howdeshell possesses these skills and experiences and more. As the Senior Associate Athletics Director of Administration and Capital Projects at Northern Arizona University, he currently manages a staff of more than 70 with a $25 million budget. He negotiates and manages contracts for key, revenue-generating athletics partnerships, and works directly with high-capacity donors. He has led the athletics strategic planning process, including development of the five-year vision for NAU athletics; he worked collaboratively on the development and implementation of the NAU NIL policy; and he assisted with the overhaul of support services for student athletes, which led to three straight semesters of record GPA at NAU.

In his remarks, Howdeshell thanked Best and members of the search committee chaired by Phil Bridgmon, UCM’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. He introduced his wife, Hiliary, who grew up in Johnson County, Missouri, and their three children, Benjamin, Max and Peter. The new VP also specifically commended the service of two individuals who have had a significant impact on UCM athletics. One of them was Jerry Hughes, who served the university for 40 years at its top athletics post. The other was Kathy Anderson, who has filled Hughes’ post on an interim basis since he passed away in January.

“He’s a legend, and there’s no replacing Jerry Hughes,” Howdeshell said, recognizing  the longtime Athletics VP's service to the university and the Warrensburg community. “It’s an honor to build on the foundation that he laid.”

“I’d also like to recognize Kathy Anderson, All-American student athlete and longtime Senior Woman Administrator. Thank you, Kathy, for all that you’ve done and all that you continue to do for UCM Athletics. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you, so thank you.”

“I’d also like to recognize and thank UCM coaches and staff for all that you do and have done for our student athletes especially during this transitional process,” Howdeshell added. 

Howdeshell said he spoke at length with President Best about the opportunity and potential that he saw that exists within Intercollegiate Athletics. As vice president, he hopes to honor the past and build on this program’s future at UCM.

“We have such a storied tradition, one that we owe so much to those who helped build it. In the days and weeks ahead, I look forward to listening and learning from everyone to get to even more understand UCM Athletics and working collaboratively with our team,” Howdeshell remarked. “We’ll build on past successes and innovate for the future. We will keep what has worked but enhance all areas of our department. Our championship excellence will inspire Mules everywhere and energize support for our student athletes, coaches, and the Warrensburg community.”

He cited different ways Intercollegiate Athletics will honor the past and prepare for the future.

“First and foremost, we will advocate for our student athletes and give them the resources they need to maximize their athletic and academic potential. We’re going to pursue championship excellence in all that we do, athletically, academically, operating with integrity, fiscally, and organizationally. If the score is being kept, we’re going to win. And we’re going to unite the Mules and Jennies everywhere. We’re going to advance the brand, broaden the base, and create the experience that people want to be a part of.”

Howdeshell said he looks forward to developing a collaborative relationship with all UCM partners, including members of the Warrensburg community. He also stressed that the support of alumni and donors will be essential to accomplishing what he believes is Intercollegiate Athletics’ most important charge – the development of young people. 

“A challenge to everyone in here…join us as we honor the past and build our future through work ethic, innovative spirit, and a team mindset. We are in the business of developing young people and it’s not a one-person job, it’s a team effort. It takes all of us pulling in the same direction,” Howdeshell commented. 
“Together we can build an athletic department that will inspire Mules and Jennies everywhere,” he continued. “Together, we can build an athletic department for the future. Together, we can build an athletic department that will be a source of pride for this institution.”  

To learn more about Howdeshell and what other individuals are saying about him, check out the news release about his appointment on the Intercollegiate Athletics website.



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