CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.—After serving 16 years as Austin Peay State University athletics director, Dave Loos will step away from those duties, but will remain as the Governors head basketball coach.
That was announced Tuesday morning at a press held in the Dunn Center on the floor bearing Loos’ name. Loos will remain as athletics director until a new one is in place later this spring/summer.
“It has been an honor and privilege to represent Austin Peay and this athletic department,” Loos said. “I think others can judge how this has gone, good or bad, but I honestly say I did the best I could. I tried to do it the right way, always keeping in mind the integrity of all this. I was proud to serve as athletics director at Austin Peay and look forward to continuing to support Austin Peay and our athletic program. “
Loos was named Austin Peay athletics director on an interim basis in April 1997, replacing Kaye Hart. At the time he was one of a handful of basketball coaches who also served as CEO of his/her respective athletics department. In 2006 after Fang Mitchell resigned his Coppin State athletics director’s duties to concentrate on his basketball coaching duties, Loos was the last of a dying breed.
"Many people may already know it's rare to have someone serve as both a head coach and athletics director,” APSU President Tim Hall said. “What unheard of is to have someone who does both well, and Dave Loos is a man that does things well. His record stands on its own, having won more than 350 basketball games here over a 22-year career, much of which was accomplished while serving in both capacities as coach and athletics director.
“Dave is a remarkably competitive, yet incredibly humble person, who has achieved greatness throughout his athletic career, both as a hall of fame inductee at Memphis State and Austin Peay. He's not only held a winning record as our head basketball coach, but has also been a key influence in the success of our entire athletic program, having led the coaching staff to multiple OVC championships and NCAA tournament runs.”
In 1997, Loos took over an athletic program fragmented by a late-1996 University decision that moved the Governors scholarship football program from the Ohio Valley Conference to non-scholarship status in an effort to satisfy gender equity requirements, with the planned additions of women’s soccer and golf. In the aftermath, it was Loos’ job to not only revitalize booster and fan support for the entire athletic department but as well rebuild internally a department wreaked with strife.
His common-sense approach resulted in a program that won 30 OVC regular-season and/or tournament championships over the next 16 years, despite the fact his department remained one of the lowest funded among conference schools.
“Over all these years I have received credit for a lot of things in actuality other people did,” Loos said. “I would be remiss if I didn’t thank those people. I would start at home. The one who did as much as anyone is my wife, Phyllis. While I was out either on campus or on the road representing Austin Peay, she was taking care of the responsibilities of being a parent. First and foremost, I thank her for allowing me to be gone as much as I have.”
Loos was hired as basketball coach by then-Athletics Director Tim Weiser. Oscar Page was APSU President at the time and was succeeded by Sal Rinella, who elevated Loos into the athletics director’s role.
“I have worked with three presidents as Athletics Director and a total of four and I appreciate their support.” Loos said. “It all starts at the top and you can only make progress if you have that support.
“But I especially would like to thank those who I have worked with on a day-to-day basis and have leaned on probably the most in this athletic department to make this thing work. Some of the names change but I do think it is important to thank (Assistant Athletics Director) Cheryl Holt, (Business Manager) Sharon Silva, (Compliance Coordinator) Tara Pfeifler, (Marketing and Promotions Director) Alaric Klinghard, (Sports Information Director) Brad Kirtley, (Athletic Trainer) Joni Johnson, (former Assistant Athletics Director and Athletic Trainer) Chuck Kimmel, (Facilities Manager) Bud Jenkins, (Assistant Facilities Manager) Cedric McKinney, (former Business Manager) Debbie Stratman, (Executive Assistant) Ana Ortega, (Athletics Academic Coordinator) Sonya Bain, (former Academics Athletic Advisor) Joe Luckey, (Faculty Athletic Representative) Bruce Myers and (former Faculty Athletic Representative) Gaines Hunt—all people who I have worked with every day. Those people did a lot of those things and I got the credit for.”
Along the way, the department has grown exponentially to offer programs opportunities to compete for titles. For instance, Loos oversaw the return of the women’s golf program and establishment of Lady Govs soccer, including the construction of the Morgan Brothers Soccer Field. He also supervised the construction of an on-campus softball field that later added lights, now named Cheryl Holt Field, which allowed the Lady Govs to move their games from off-campus sites.
In addition, Raymond C. Hand Park has continued to see improvements, including locker rooms and a clubhouse being built at the facility, permitting both the players and coaches to move closer to the diamond. A new hitting/pitching facility also has been built to supplement a program that has won the last two OVC championships along with a restroom facility that also services soccer and softball.
The nearly 40-year old Dunn Center also has undergone continuing improvements. It has seen the addition of chair-back seating and video boards, with the actual Dave Aaron Arena surface being replaced last summer. Next season, the arena will receive just its third scoreboard since the facility was constructed. In addition, new LED tables will replace the current tables, allowing more professional signage display.
But football has been beneficiary of the most significant improvements since Loos took department control. After the Govs competed in non-scholarship for a decade, scholarship football returned in 2006 as it rejoined its home in the OVC after spending five ill-fitted years in the Pioneer Football League. That pronouncement paralleled new scoreboard/video board installation as well as an artificial Polytan mega-grass field that accompanied a new track surface.
But that was a tip of the iceberg for Governors Stadium, which has been in much need of a facelift. After the 2013 season concludes the home side will be demolished, with a brand new $16.9 million facility to greet the Govs when the 2014 season opens that includes locker rooms as well as other player amenities in addition to corporate suites.
But to know Loos is also to know that while he enjoyed the on-field successes and the playing facility improvements, he is more ecstatic about the program’s off-field success and welfare. The athletics department grade-point average annually stands 2.8 or higher—well above the campus mean—and it has earned two OVC Academic Achievement Banners (2002-03, 2008-09), a source of personal pride for Loos. In fact, with the help of friend, APSU alum and athletic department booster, Congressman Dr. Phil Roe, the Dr. David P. Roe Athletics Academic Center was constructed in 2006 at the south end of the Dunn Center to better service the student-athletes to achieve their academic goals. Numerous Governors have earned academic recognition with Loos as athletics director, including 16 Academic All-Americans and 13 OVC Scholar-Athletes.
In addition, Loos has been gratified with the class and dignity his programs have performed. The Govs and Lady Govs have captured numerous OVC Sportsmanship Awards, but none more important than the Steve Hamilton Sportsmanship Award. Since it was instituted to honor the late former Morehead State player, coach and athletics director in 1997-98, Austin Peay has received eight of the prestigious individual awards.
“I owe a great deal of gratitude our coaches,” Loos said. “We have had a good solid group of coaches over my time here and I appreciate the things they have been able to accomplish.
“And most certainly I would like to thank the student athletes. One of the things I took seriously is how we did academically. I think they have done a terrific job in getting done what our real priority and that is graduating—and getting that degree.”
“I think one of the things I'm most impressed with is Dave's focus on academic excellence,” Hall said. “Our athletic mission is to compete both on the field and in the classroom. Dave has done a phenomenal job of fulfilling this mission by having multiple OVC Scholar Athletes and Academic All-Americans selected. I think that speaks volumes on the quality of our athletic administration and the players we choose, and those students tend to excel in their careers after their academic and athletic careers have ended."
During his tenure Loos was forced to navigate the athletic program through severe financial crisis, one inherited by Dr. Sherry Hoppe when she became president in 2000 and a second when a Tennessee government shutdown occurred in 2002. That is in addition to the Mehlville, Mo., native’s constant search to discover ways to increase scholarship dollars for his programs along with physical improvements. Loos took it on himself to help supplement the athletics budget in the never-ending battle to remain under the Tennessee Higher Education Commission athletics cap. In addition to helping lead and reorganize the Governors Club’s—the athletic department’s support group—fund-raising efforts, he also utilized his basketball program to enhance funds to support the athletic program.
Loos’ Governors have played 86 guarantee games since his arrival as basketball coach in 1990, but more than 60 came after he became athletics director, approximately raising $2.5 million dollars to supplement the athletics budget. That became even more important when Austin Peay elected to return to scholarship football in 2006. Factoring the nearly $100,000 annually APSU has saved in Loos serving a dual role as athletics director/basketball coach, more than $4 million has resulted in funds saved and/or raised since 1997.
“Last but not least I would like to thank the Governors Club,” Loos said. “I have said over and over what a great core group of supporters we have here. They have given of their time, energy and money in support of our athletic program. I am certainly appreciative of their support but their friendship as well.”
Loos adroitly moved forward Austin Peay’s athletic department both on and off the field during his tenure without compromising values. As patient and understanding he has proven to be as programs were built or rebuilt, Loos has been intolerant of rules breaking. He insists his respective coaches know and understand NCAA rules. As a result, no major NCAA violations have occurred during his watch.