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Terry Gawlik hired as University of Idaho athletic director

Terry Gawlik, right, hugs University of Idaho President Scott Green after he announced that she was the Vandals' director of athletics on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, in Boise. (Katherine Jones /

BOISE – Terry Gawlik, senior associate athletic director for sports administration at the University of Wisconsin, has been hired to head the University of Idaho’s athletics department.

She will be the first woman to lead the Vandals as athletics director.

At a press conference Wednesday in Boise where Gawlik was introduced, and in earlier remarks to the Idaho board of Education – which unanimously approved her hiring – UI president Scott Green said in a pool of 59 applicants, with five finalists, Gawlik stood out.

He cited her 25 years in athletics administration, her oversight of 10 sports and 400 student-athletes at Wisconsin, and the facts that she has chaired NCAA committees, is widely known and well-regarded among college athletics personnel, is an expert in Title IX compliance and has a reputation for integrity.

“She checked every box we were looking for, including looking forward very much to living in the state of Idaho,” Green said.

Gawlik’s contract runs from Sept. 1 of this year to July 21, 2024. The base salary is $200,000, with incentives for athletes’ academic and teams’ competitive achievement, according to Green.

Gawlik succeeds interim athletics director Pete Isakson. He moved from associate to interim athletics director last year after former UI president Chuck Staben placed athletics director Rob Spear on administrative leave for allegedly failing to adequately address complaints from women athletes about sexual harassment by a former UI football player. The board of education terminated Spear last August.

While he served as athletics director, Isakson suspended former men’s basketball coach Don Verlin for three potential NCAA violations. Staben upheld Verlin’s suspension and ultimate firing this summer, before Green became president.

In addition to this unsettled situation, Gawlik must appease a portion of the UI athletics support community that is still disgruntled about the Vandals’ departure from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and return to the Football Championship Subdivision and the Big Sky Conference. She also faces an ongoing structural deficit in the athletics budget of about $1 million.

With regard to football, Gawlik said the Big Sky is “a good footprint for Idaho athletics.” Before contemplating a return to FBS, “we need to be competitive in FCS,” she said.

Gawlik added she and Green have discussed the deficit, and it is her responsibility to be creative in eliminating the deficit or reducing it.

Spear had proposed adding several nonscholarship sports and counting the tuition paid by participants as athletics revenue. The Board of Education last year gave UI a year to explore the concept. Gawlik said she did not know if the proposal is still viable, but she is aware of NCAA Division III schools in her native Texas that have done something similar.

“I am sure we will be discussing that,” she said.

Gawlik said she plans to bring a collegial focus to the UI athletics culture.

“I’m a team player,” she said, and she wants UI coaches to share best practices with each other. She also said it is “extremely important” for the athletics department to be connected to the entire campus community.

“One of the reasons we hired Terry is she will build the right culture in the athletic department,” Green said.

Gawlik is a 1981 graduate of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where she competed in volleyball and basketball. She earned a master’s in physical education and educational administration from Texas State University while coaching volleyball and basketball at Mary-Hardin Baylor College. She also coached at St. Mary’s (Texas) University and Austin College before going to Wisconsin, where she supervised game day operations, tournaments, booster club events and did other marketing before moving into athletics administration.

She is chairman of the NCAA Division I women’s basketball committee and has formerly headed the Division I men’s soccer and women’s volleyball committees. She represented Wisconsin on the Big Ten Conference Sports Management Committee and Joint Group.

She became senior woman administrator in 2005 after serving seven years as assistant AD for sports administration.

Gawlik, 60, said she wants to remain at UI as long as she can make a difference to the institution. She cited her long, successful career advancing University of Wisconsin athletics and said she would like to do the same things as Idaho’s athletics director.

“It’s a great opportunity to grow this department and have some fun doing it,” Gawlik said.