University of Louisiana Monroe Director of Athletics Dr. Brian Wickstrom will not seek to renew his contract with the university, according to President Dr. Nick J. Bruno. Wickstrom’s contract runs through June 30, 2017.
“I want to thank Dr. Wickstrom for his four years of service to ULM,” Bruno stated. “When Brian arrived at ULM, we discussed what his goals and aspirations were. At that time, he informed me that his plan was to remain here for three or four years, but his goal was to move to a larger program. He has accomplished many things during his tenure and our program is better for his service. I wish Brian and his family the best in his future endeavors.”
“I'd like to thank Dr. Bruno for the opportunity to be the ULM Director of Athletics the last four years,” said Wickstrom. “My family and I have been so blessed to be part of this great campus and city. Monroe is one of the warmest and friendliest communities Celina and I have ever been part of. Two of our five children were born here, and we will cherish the memories our family has made.”
“Dr. Bruno and I started discussions about an extension back in January. After a lot of thought and reflection, I wanted to be honest about my desire to make a long-term move to a bigger program. Through these discussions, I decided not to ask for a contract extension.”
Wickstrom has been with the Warhawks since July 2013. Under his leadership, the Warhawks have seen a 22 percent increase in the operating budget. This significant increase has allowed ULM to be removed from the NCAA’s Low Resource classification. Wickstrom has secured the top six gift commitments, and nine of the top 10, in ULM Athletics history. This includes the largest unrestricted gift in ULMAF history. He and his team funded a new end zone football facility, which was the first 100 percent privately funded facility on campus. The facility, which was also the first new football-related facility built on campus since 1983, features 11,750 square feet of space that includes coaches’ offices, a conference room, video area, the Hall of History, and a new student-athlete locker room.
“I am deeply disappointed at the news that we will no longer have Brian Wickstrom here as our leader of athletics as well as a champion for ULM,” said David Moore, President of the ULM Athletic Foundation. “His fundraising efforts allowed the ULM Athletic Foundation the opportunity to provide a brand new facility for the athletic department, the first in several decades, as well as many renovated and improved facilities. The direction he provided in all the athletic programs has had an immediate and long-term impact. In addition, Brian and his wife and children have become a real part of not only the ULM community, but the area as well, and they will all be missed. While my greatest wish would be for Brian to continue to work with us at ULM, I wish him all the success in his future endeavors.”
Wickstrom has been active in the Monroe community since arriving on campus, speaking at numerous engagements and attending various donor, alumni, and community meetings. In December, he received the Excellence in Service to Students Award after being selected by the student body as someone who mentors and teaches with heart and passion and has motivated them in their pursuit of education. In addition, Wickstrom has received recognition as a Top Athletic Director in the Group of Five by SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty and was named one of the Top 10 Fundraising ADs in College Athletics by CollegeAD.
Under Wickstrom’s guidance, ULM set an all-time high in season ticket revenues for football. He implemented courtside seating for men’s and women’s basketball, which created a new revenue stream and enhanced the fan experience. Wickstrom also orchestrated the first men’s basketball single game sellout since 1982 and ULM has seen men’s basketball revenues increase dramatically since his arrival. The men’s basketball program completed one of the top two-year stretches in program history, concluding with near-capacity crowds created by the “white-out” game in the College Basketball Invitational Championships.
Additionally, Wickstrom set single game and season attendance records for many Olympic sports.
Wickstrom oversaw a renovation of the weight room, installation of field turf at both Malone Stadium (football) and the ULM Softball complex, the construction of the indoor baseball facility, improvements to the soccer facilities, the addition of Tailgate Terrace at Malone Stadium, renovations of the tennis facility, improvements to the basketball coliseum offices, and expansion of the sand volleyball courts. He also secured the recent commitment for a new track, a key component of the $5 million renovation of Brown Stadium and Groseclose Track.
Wickstrom planned and implemented the first “Camo-Out” game in college football history. The game put Warhawk Nation on the national stage as ULM defeated ACC foe Wake Forest, 17-10, on Aug. 28, 2014. In 2015, he coordinated the P-40 throwback jersey for football. Both initiatives resulted in national media attention from Sporting News, Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, SB Nation, Deadspin, FootballScoop, and Barstool Sports.
With Wickstrom at the helm of the athletics department, the ULM women’s tennis team recently won the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Tournament, becoming the first women’s team at the university to win a Sun Belt Conference Championship and earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The team received several accolades following the monumental season, including Newcomer of the Year and Sun Belt Coach of the Year honors. Additionally, the women’s head soccer coach was named the 2016 Sun Belt Coach of the Year in the fall, while the softball team recently earned a berth in the inaugural National Invitational Softball Championship.
In addition to successes on the field, Wickstrom implemented guidelines for the classroom that resulted in a 2015-16 APR single-year perfect score of 1000 for eight Warhawk teams, including men’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, women’s beach volleyball, women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball.
Men’s golf, women’s cross country, and women’s beach volleyball each have a perfect 1000 multi-year score as well. All 17 ULM teams achieved more than a 940 score for the 2015-16 academic year. Wickstrom also funded firstgeneration endowments for both student-athletes and non-athletic students. Wickstrom instituted the Faculty Coach Program at ULM, inviting faculty members to serve as guest coaches and fostering positive relationships between the athletics department staff, the student athletes, and the academic faculty. His commitment to student-athletes’ academic success and his support of the creation of well-equipped study space, funding of tutors, and other active contributions have reinforced the importance of the university’s mission beyond athletics.
"As an academic Dean, it was reassuring to see Brian reach out to faculty and students to engage them more in athletic events on campus,” said Dr. Ronald Berry, Dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences. “He helped bridge a gap between athletics and academics on campus. His focus on student success, both on and off the field, can be seen through the academic success of student athletes as well as in all of the athletic facility improvements on campus. I wish him well in his search for new opportunities."
Wickstrom currently serves on the NCAA Olympic Sports Liaison Committee, the NCAA Division I Committee on Academics, the Sun Belt Cross Country/Track and Field Committee, the Sun Belt Football Championship Game Committee, and the Sun Belt Softball Committee. He has previously served on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Issues committee and was a member of the NCAA Division I Recruiting Work Group.