For the first time in more than 30 years Evangel University athletics will have new leadership. Long-time Athletic Director Dr. David Stair and Administrative Assistant Faye Liddle announced plans to retire effective in mid-July.
Dr. David Stair has been Evangel’s Athletic Director since 1982 and has worked for the university since 1976. During his time at Evangel he coached women’s basketball for five seasons from 1979-84, women’s tennis for six years (1977-82) and served as department chair of the Physical Education department from 1999-2007.
“For 38 years I have had the privilege of working with the finest administrators, coaches, athletics staff and student-athletes,” said Stair. “It's time to hand the baton to someone younger who will raise the bar and lead the university to even greater national prominence.”
During his tenure, Stair was recognized as one of the top athletic administrators in the country. He is a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame, the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Berwick Bulldogs Hall of Fame in his hometown of Berwick, Pa. He was named the NAIA Central Region Athletic Director of the Year in 2004 by the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors. In 2001, he was awarded the NAIA Region V Athletic Director of Year and he was the NAIA-ADA Male Athletics Administrator of the Year in 1995. He was also honored as the NAIA District 16 Athletic Director of the Year in 1988.
Evangel president Dr. Robert Spence says Stair’s character has played a key role in the success of Evangel athletics.
“I have worked very closely with Dr. Stair for 35 years, and I have found him to be a man who’s always led with the highest level of integrity,” said Spence. “He administers with excellence.
“He has really emphasized the academic progress of our students,” Spence added. “He has given great emphasis to strong academic performance by our athletes.”
Stair helped transform Evangel athletics during his time at the helm. He expanded the department to include men’s and women’s indoor track and field and revived the outdoor track and field programs. He also saw the addition of men’s golf, men’s and women’s cross country and softball. He guided the university to their first conference affiliation joining the Heart of America Athletic Conference in 1987.
Since then, Evangel has won 36 conference championships in 10 different sports. The Crusaders captured an NAIA-II national championship in men’s basketball in 2002, advanced to two national semifinals in football, two NAIA-II national semifinal appearances in women’s basketball and had two win individual national championships in track and field. Working in conjunction with the HAAC six years ago, he led Evangel’s move to the NAIA Division I level in men’s and women’s basketball and both programs have advanced to the NAIA-I national tournament multiple times.
Under Stair, the athletic department also won the Heart of America conference Sportsmanship Award in four of the five years it was awarded between 2006 and 2010.
As a department chair and professor, Stair was honored with Evangel's E.M. and Estella Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service in 2004. He also founded Evangel's Athletic Hall of Fame and has served on the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame and the Greater Springfield Sports Commission boards since the inception of both organizations.
Stair’s influence as an athletic administrator goes well beyond Evangel. He recently completed a five-year term as secretary on the governing board of the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors and is serving as the NAIA representative on the NACDA Director’s Cup Committee. In 1999, Stair was elected as one of eight College Division members of the NACDA Executive Committee. Throughout his tenure at Evangel, he has served in numerous leadership roles with the NAIA and the Heart of America conference.
Evangel president elect and campus CEO, Dr. Carol Taylor, says she has appreciated Stair’s leadership over his department.
“One of the things that has impressed me about Athletic Director David Stair has been his consistent focus and advocacy for excellence in athletics at Evangel,” said Dr. Taylor. “In his final year, there is no coasting, no easing up on the intensity of his work to pursue the best for athletics, his team of coaches and staff, and our student-athletes. It has been a joy to work with David this year, and I wish him every happiness and deep satisfaction in his next season.”
A search for a new athletic director at Evangel will begin immediately with university vice president for Academic Affairs Dr. Glenn Bernet leading the search committee. Bernet, who has served as academic dean at Evangel since 1985, said he admires Stair’s commitment to developing a well-rounded athletic program.
“Dr. Stair has established an athletics program that is well defined and integral to the mission of the university,” said Bernet. “He brought Evangel sports from an independent non-affiliated collection of teams to a well-respected and highly competitive member of the NAIA and the Heart of America conference. All of this he has done with a keen sense of responsibility for the academic success of the athletes we recruit.”
Joining Stair in retirement is administrative assistant Faye Liddle. She has worked in the Athletics Department since 1986 and at Evangel since 1982. Liddle manages the ticket office for football and basketball games in addition to the administration of the athletics office. Along with her husband, Gary Liddle, an Evangel professor since 1977, she was presented with a Distinguished Service Award by the Evangel Alumni Association in 2012.
Evangel's next athletic director will only be the fourth department leader in the school’s 59 year history. Dr. Donald Pearson served as athletic director from the start of Evangel athletics until 1974. Aundrae Curtis then led the department from 1974 to 1981.