As the leader of the most active and the most successful athletic department in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC), Shane Hurley has plenty on his plate. That was never more true than this year when OLLU athletics grew to 17 intercollegiate sports, seven Saints teams made national tournament appearances, and the school won its eighth RRAC All-Sports Award.
Hurley’s efforts were recognized by his peers, who selected him as the 2021-2022 RRAC Athletic Director of the Year.
The RRAC Athletic Director of the Year award recognizes the leader who had the best year in overall program performance, facility development, game administration, NAIA Champions of Character commitment, ability to hire and keep quality coaches, program growth in sports and revenue opportunities, contributions at the conference and national levels and student-athlete development. The award is decided through a vote by all RRAC athletic directors.
In addition to the normal day-to-day challenges of managing the athletic program, Hurley and his staff hosted RRAC championships in men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball, men’s and women’s track and field and softball during the last year. They also were faced with the loss of a close friend and longtime Saints broadcaster, Michael Thompson, near the end of the basketball season.
Through it all, Hurley was the capable leader of all things OLLU.
“Shane has done a great job keeping OLLU at the top of the conference,” says LSU Shreveport Athletic Director Lucas Morgan. “They are competitive in every sport while also doing things the right way. He is a committed leader and very deserving of this recognition.”
Hurley is a true blue Saint. He has been at OLLU since the school joined the NAIA in 2007, first serving as the men’s soccer coach and then doubling up as the women’s soccer coach from 2008-to 2012. In 2018, he was called on to serve as the interim athletic director, stepping into the official role in 2019 and shedding his soccer duties to focus solely on the athletic director role in 2020.
“I’m proud to extend congratulations to Shane Hurley,” says RRAC Commissioner Tony Stigliano. “This award recognizes his hard work and commitment to OLLU, the RRAC, and our other athletic directors. We’re fortunate to have leaders like Shane in our conference.”
Taking over a program that was already a perennial conference power, Hurley has added to that excellence. In addition to the All-Sports Awards, OLLU also was recognized as last year’s RRAC GPA Award winner with the best academic results in the conference. He also spearheaded four new sports, thoroughly researching the feasibility of adding women’s golf, women’s tennis, competitive cheer and competitive dance by consulting with local, state and national universities with similar programs. He put together a comprehensive report to include demographics, geographical competition, interest from recruiting areas, plus a practicable budget that would allow the university to approve the plan.
After much deliberation, the university’s Board of Trustees approved Hurley’s plan to increase the intercollegiate program from 13 to 17 teams, adding competitive cheer, competitive dance, women’s golf and women’s tennis.
With the establishment of the four teams, Hurley aggressively pursued hiring head and assistant coaches for all four teams. The new coaches were able to search for viable student-athletes – academically and athletically qualified – to recruit for their programs. All coaches have been able to put together teams that would be competitive immediately.
His projections rang true. After just one season, the women’s golf team excelled beyond expectations, winning two tournaments and successfully competing throughout the year. The dance team also excelled and made history with a second-place finish at nationals, and the women’s tennis team qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2014. OLLU now boasts more than 400 student-athletes.