Marquette Director of Athletics Bill Cords Announces His Retirement

Oct. 24, 2006

MILWAUKEE - Marquette University Director of Athletics Bill Cords announced today his decision to retire effective December 31, 2006. Cords has run the department of athletics since July 1987.

"My family and I deeply appreciate the opportunity given to us by Marquette University," said Cords. "We're grateful to have been a part of a very special place, an outstanding community and wonderful state."

Cords has presided over Marquette's athletic department during a period of significant growth and success. During his 20 years, Cords expanded sports offerings at the Division I level, added and improved athletic facilities, oversaw outstanding athletic and academic achievement, and, most notably, engineered Marquette's move from independent status to the Big East Conference.

"Bill Cords is a man of integrity and class. His concern for our student athletes and his attention to their needs both on and off the court have helped create athletic programs that are not only successful in terms of wins and losses but, most importantly, are successful in helping young men and women succeed well as students and as human beings," said Marquette President Robert A. Wild, S.J.

The mission of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is to strive for excellence in academics, athletics, leadership and service to others. Under Cords' supervision, Marquette student-athletes, teams and coaches across the broad spectrum of the program achieved academic, athletic, personal and professional prominence at the conference, regional and national levels.

"Having worked very closely with Bill during his 20 years as athletic director, I can attest to the fact that he has overseen tremendous progress in our program. The development of the Al McGuire Center and Valley Fields, the recruitment of outstanding coaches and our entry into the Big East Conference are all tributes to his vision and tenacity," said Marquette University Senior Vice President Greg Kliebhan.

During his tenure, Marquette has hosted conference championships in men's and women's basketball, cross country, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's tennis and men's and women's outdoor track and field. Marquette hosted very successful NCAA Men's Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds in 1992, 1996, 1999, and 2004. Marquette also hosted the NCAA Women's Basketball Mideast Regional in 2002.

"We are proud of what our student athletes have accomplished academically, athletically and in leadership through service to others," said Cords. "Moving from independent status to the Big East Conference was accomplished through the commitment and dedication of our students, coaches, staff, university administration and community, season ticket holders, donors, fans and friends. People are our strength." For his efforts, Cords was honored nationally by his peers as the 1999 NACDA/Continental Regional (Central) I-AA/I-AAA Athletic Director of the Year.

Prior to arriving at Marquette in 1987, Cords was the athletics director at the University of Texas-El Paso. During his five-year tenure, a strong broad-based program was developed with a rapidly improving football program, development of a women's athletic conference, a very successful men's basketball program, and highlighted by the elimination of a previous $1 million deficit.

Before going to UTEP, Cords spent 11 years at Washington State University, serving as head freshman football coach, assistant varsity football coach, director of intramurals, academic advisor, assistant athletics director and associate athletics director while earning a master's degree and completing doctoral work in education administration. He also taught and coached at the high school level in Montana.

Marquette University Associate Senior Vice President Steve Cottingham will fill the position on an interim basis through at least this summer. Cottingham has worked closely with athletics during the last three years, particularly in the areas of facility development, sponsorship and contract negotiations.

"Marquette is lucky to have someone of Steve Cottingham's qualifications and dedication to step in while we search for Bill's successor," Kliebhan said. "Steve has held a variety of university positions, including associate general counsel and associate senior vice president and has been an integral part of our athletics administration the past few years. He brings a unique and valuable perspective, as well as an incredible work ethic, to this position."

Other quotes from Director of Athletics Bill Cords and Marquette Staff

Bill Cords, Athletic Director
"This is an exciting time to be at Marquette University and an exciting time to be with Marquette athletics."

"When I came to the university, the way athletics aught to be, that was a dream. The dream became a reality because of all the people I have worked with and talked about, the people I have met with the last few days, and the thousands of student-athletes, coaches, presidents, administrations and staff, and the dream is not over, it will always continue..."

"We've met wonderful people in and out of the athletic program. This is a wonderful university, and I am very fortunate that we've had the opportunity to come, and we've had the opportunity to make the university a better places, and I hope that we have done that. I know it has made us proud."

"Every time our student athletes step into the arena of competition, they have a great chance to win. I think with that happening, the university, the administration, the coaches, the staff and the fans really made that possible. That's what I would like to be remembered for. Not for what I accomplished, but what they were able to do, and I have seen that happen."

"We are very thankful to have had the opportunity to be here. To our head coaches, Father Wild, family, and staff, I love Marquette."

Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., President
"One of the things I've always known about Bill is that he has the amazing ability to recruit excellent coaches. One of the main reasons we've been able to compete so well is because Bill has been able to bring great people in to coach our teams."

"Running a program of unquestionable integrity is not easy to do. It needs constant vigilance, its something that we take great pride in. We never say problems can't happen at Marquette, but we do everything, certainly in the AD's office, to run the program successfully, and Bill has done just that."

Tom Crean, head men's basketball coach
"Bill will be remembered for the things he has done for Marquette and the way he treated all of us. He was never a man to stand in front of us in the glory, or behind us when things were bad, but Bill always stood beside us with his 100-percent backing...He will be remembered for his mentorship, energy, enthusiasm and his toughness. We always knew that we had a job to do, and always gave us the opportunity to do it fully, with respect."

Dave Uhrich, head men's and women's track and cross country coach
"I was an athlete here before Bill was the athletic director, and then I started coaching shortly after he took his post. It has been amazing how under his leadership the athletic department has grown in his time here."

Pati Rolf, head volleyball coach
"Without Bill I wouldn't be at Marquette. Clearly, he made a difference in changing my focus and bringing me the opportunity that I wouldn't have seen before. It's strange to have him leaving. When I was first hired I had him promises me he would be here for five years, and we had a handshake and he promised. He will have been here five years in the beginning of December. I am really here because of him. Bill has been a tremendous person to not only my staff, but to my players and the alumni as well. I have a great appreciation for what he has done."

Louis Bennett, head men's soccer coach

It's an honor for me to have worked with someone like Bill Cords and to be a part of something with someone who has similar dreams. In such a short time, I have not only come to respect him, but I really like him as a person.

Tim Grogan, head golf coach

To see where this athletic department was in 1992 when I got here to now is like night and day. All of the coaches, me especially, owe a lot of gratitude to Bill Cords. I graduated in May and he hired me to be the head golf coach that fall. He trusted me as I was coming right from college. That is why I owe him gratitude.

Markus Roeders, head women's soccer coach

An incredible leader, supporter and coach is stepping away. He had a certain way of always being there for us coaches and athletes and understanding the big picture while enjoying the moment. We all had a vision of where we wanted this athletics program to go and he was able to support that and see it through to make it a reality. His undying support through the rain, sleet, snow, cold will never be forgotten. Through all of the wins and losses he was there to shake hands with you afterward and had some way of making things easier and providing guidance. He embodies what Marquette is. He has been a builder, bringing us to where we are today but at the same time allowing us coaches to build our programs in our own ways.

Jody Bronson, head women's tennis coach

When I was brought in here 22 years ago we had nothing. I was ambitious and wanted to give everything I had to the program, but when he came in slowly things began to change, but I never would have thought our program would be where it is today with all of the success that came along with it.

What makes him special is that he is an athletic director that is involved. He knows his student athletes and knows what they are capable of. He gave himself to the athletes and made everyone feel like they belonged at Marquette and that they are special. I don't think you will ever find another athletic director in Division I that is as involved with the athletes and genuinely cares for them as much as Bill does.

Terri Mitchell, head women's basketball coach

Bill has left a legacy that will live on many, many years to come. His work ethic, commitment to raising Marquette athletics to the highest standards will live on in the coaches and athletes.

Personally, I owe Bill so much for his encouragement and guidance to me. He understands what it takes to win and I will forever treasure those conversations. Bill will always be important to our program an I look forward to seeing him cheering in the stands.

Steve Rodecap, head men's tennis coach

My time spent with Bill has been extremely rewarding, and the respect that I have for him and the respect he shows to me as a head coach has been steadfast. He has been so supportive to our program and I appreciate all the work that he has put in to make each program at Marquette University special. Bill has a drive and passion for athletics that is second to none, and has always done things in a first class manner. His work ethic behind the scenes has been that of an underdog, but he truly deserves the credit for where this department is today. I owe him a great deal for giving me the opportunity to coach at such a great institution, and I wish him and his family a happy and healthy future.


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