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Jan. 5, 2011
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Northwest Missouri State University on Wednesday introduced Wren Baker as the University's new director of athletics.
Baker, who has served since 2006 as director of athletics at Rogers State University in Claremore, Okla., will officially begin his new duties at Northwest in February.
"I've been fortunate, at 32, to have a 10-year career in athletics, lots of highlights, Final Fours, NCAA tournaments, lots of firsts at RSU, first wins, a 70-percent winning percentage," Baker said. "But today ranks at the top. This is a very proud moment for me because I think this is a great program and I'm so excited to be here. I'm excited to be a part of a dynamic institution with a very loyal, passionate fan base and that's what makes Northwest special."
Listen to complete audio from the news conference below or click here.
As the first athletics director in Rogers State's history, Baker started the school's athletics program from scratch and led the men's basketball team to a 20-11 record in its inaugural season. In 2008, he stepped away from coaching basketball to focus on growing Rogers State athletics, which now fields 10 teams. Baker initiated fundraising campaigns and oversaw multimillion dollar improvements to four different athletics facilities. Additionally, Baker hired seven head coaches to start new sports programs at Rogers State, which have won roughly 70 percent of its games.
Previously, Baker was director of athletics and principal at Valliant (Okla.) Public Schools, assistant director of operations for men's basketball at Oklahoma State University and assistant men's basketball coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. At Oklahoma State, Baker was a member of legendary coach Eddie Sutton's men's basketball staff.
With numerous members of Northwest's staff, including coaches and athletics staff, in the audience, University President Dr. John Jasinski recalled a phone call he received from Sutton to endorse Baker's candidacy for the Northwest job.
"It was a pleasure to talk to the legend, but that wasn't the biggest pleasure," Jasinski said. "It was what he said about Wren Baker. He could've talked about basketball and he could've talked about his record and all that. He didn't. He talked about Wren Baker working with, working for, working together with coaches, and letting you guys do your deal and go out and get it done, and get it done well."
As director of athletics at Northwest, Baker will be responsible for leading Northwest's athletics program and providing an overall vision for the program. Baker will oversee the University's athletics budget and facilities. He also will work collaboratively with the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (HPERD) as well as the University's club sports and intramural and recreation program.
"Wren is committed to an environment that we're committed to - the principles of the DII, the student-athlete experience, the life in the balance, and building on Northwest's athletic successes both on the field but also in the classroom," Jasinski said. "(He has) a great track record, success, a model based on students and academic integrity, high expectations and strategic intent."
Baker thanked his family including his wife, Heather, as well as members of the University and Maryville communities. Baker also thanked recently-retired head football coach Mel Tjeerdsma and Baker's predecessor Dr. Bob Boerigter for their leadership and impact on Northwest athletics.
"I'm in a good situation," Baker said. "I'm not inheriting an automobile that got pulled out of the ditch. There's a lot that's right with Bearcat athletics. That's a credit to (Boerigter), and it won't be easy to follow somebody like him. But I make a commitment to work hard every day to take this and improve it."
Outlining some of his expectations, Baker emphasized hard work, honesty and integrity. He also stressed the importance of offering student-athletes a positive overall experience.
In addition to helping maintain the football program's success, Baker said he plans to develop strategic plans for all of the University's sports programs and assess its athletics facilities.
"My job is to make athletics the best it can be, but I think that athletics should advance the mission and integrity of the institution," Baker said. "If we're not doing that and making all students' experience better, then we're not doing our job."
Baker holds a bachelor's in health and physical education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a master's in education leadership studies from Oklahoma State University.
A proud member of the NCAA Division II and founding member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, Northwest Missouri State University offers 16 men's and women's intercollegiate athletics programs. Northwest athletics teams have won numerous conference titles, and the football program is a winner of three national championships since 1998.Northwest also prides itself on high success rates among its student-athletes. Student-athletes at Northwest boast a graduation rate of 87 percent. Student-athletes in all Northwest sports programs are posting graduation rates that exceed Division II averages, and nine Northwest teams have graduation rates above 90 percent. The national average among all student-athletes is 71 percent.
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468