McMurry University has named Sam Ferguson of Averett University in Danville, Virginia, as the school’s new athletic director. He will begin his duties on May 1.
“We are delighted to have Sam Ferguson join the McMurry family. He brings a wealth of experience in NCAA Division III athletics to McMurry and will be an invaluable asset to the McMurry athletic department as we return to the American Southwest Conference and the scholar-athlete model of intercollegiate athletics,” said McMurry President Dr. Sandra Harper.
“I’m truly grateful to Dr. Harper and the search committee for the opportunity to serve McMurry University. I look forward to working alongside the members of the athletics staff and everyone associated with the University and to ensure that our student-athletes have the resources they need to reach their academic, career and competitive goals,” said Ferguson. “I’m also looking forward to being a part of McMurry’s recommitment to Division III and return to the prestigious American Southwest Conference. It’s certainly an exciting time to be a War Hawk.”
Ferguson served as Averett University’s director of athletics for five years from 2006-2011, supervising a 14-team athletics department that included approximately 300 student-athletes and nearly 40 full and part-time employees.
During his tenure as the director of athletics, the Cougars men’s basketball team won a pair of USA South Conference Championships in 2008 and 2009, while also picking up the program’s first NCAA Tournament win in more than 15 years. The women’s soccer team (set a school record in 2011 with 14 wins), the women’s basketball team (recorded a program-best 17 wins during the 2009-10 season), and the football team (tied a school mark with seven wins in 2009) also experienced unprecedented success while Ferguson served as director of athletics. Additionally, the men’s soccer team posted 12 wins in 2010, the most by the program since 1981.
Ferguson also oversaw an era of increased visibility for the Averett athletics program. Student-athletes and coaches were active in the community, volunteering more than 12,000 community service hours from 2007-2012. He led the department through the development of Averett’s official athletics website, utilization of social media platforms, as well as a rebranding of the institution’s athletics logo. The increased visibility helped bring a substantial increase in donor and corporate sponsorships, and $100,000 worth of capital improvements to the athletics facilities during the 2011-2012 season. Working as part of the strategic planning committee, Ferguson assisted in the development and promotion of Averett’s Big Dreams Bold Futures Campaign, which includes $6 million of planned athletics facility upgrades.
The Cougars also excelled in the classroom from 2007-12. A study table program developed by the athletics department and the student success center helped the student-athlete retention rate improve by nearly 10 percent, with the football team enjoying an increase of more than 20 percent. Averett also boasted its first Academic All-American in the university’s history and 350 USA South Academic All-Conference honorees during that period. In 2012, 94 student-athletes earned Academic All-Conference honors, which represented a 77 percent increase from the 53 honorees in 2010.
Ferguson currently serves as Averett’s director of annual giving programs and got his start in athletics in 2000, as Averett’s first full-time sports information director. He is very active in the community, having served on the executive committee of both the local Big Brothers Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity board of directors. Ferguson is a member of the Riverview Rotary Club and is chair of the Riverview Rotary Christmas Parade.
The 1997 Averett alumnus was a two-year member of the institution’s golf and basketball teams. Ferguson earned a Master of Science degree in Sports Management from Nova Southeastern University in 2006. He is married to the former Kimberly Parker, who is an elementary school teacher.
Ferguson said McMurry University’s academic reputation and service mission, the rich tradition of athletics success and the quality of life in Abilene are all factors that drew him to McMurry.
“However, I am most impressed with the people I met during my visit and the passion they displayed for both the University and Abilene. We are looking forward to building many relationships and becoming active in the community. Kim and I are counting down the days until we can call Texas our home.”
(Information for this story provided by McMurry Athletics)