The transitional phase of Western’s Director of Athletics position will come to an end Wednesday when Dr. Wood Selig officially passes the torch to new AD Ross Bjork.
The Herald had the chance to speak with Selig Monday morning for likely the last time during his nearly 11-year administration, after which Selig will head to Old Dominion University to begin the same position.
He said that both transitions – Bjork’s migration to Western and his own to Old Dominion – have been comfortable moves, especially because he’s leaving on good terms.
“It’s unique within our industry that you’re able to work side by side during a transition with the individual whom you’re replacing,” Selig said. “But I think it’s also extremely beneficial.”
Selig said that he’s been impressed with how quickly Bjork is acclimatizing himself to the new position, giving him his full endorsement.
“He has an incredible drive to succeed,” Selig said. “He’s extremely intelligent, he’s been a very quick study. I think all those factors are going to serve him well, and I think he will be a fantastic athletic director for many decades.
“He’s just going to be outstanding for our profession. I don’t think the selection committee could have done a better job with their selection of Ross.”
Western athletics flourished in Selig’s 10-plus years at the helm, including 70 conference championships, a Division-II national football championship in 2002 and $100 million in renovations to campus athletic facilities.
Selig said that it would be unrealistic to think that he could leave Western after over a decade and not maintain a vested interest in its future.
But he also said that he didn’t think his attachment to Western will be any stronger than it will be in his first several years at ODU because his close relationships on the Hill will still be intact.
“Now, I know all of the head coaches, almost all of our student-athletes and the athletic administration,” Selig said. “Naturally, as turnover begins to take shape and the natural evolution of the department happens, there will be some distance come into play. But I’ll still always have a high affinity for WKU.”
Selig admitted that it will be disappointing to not see the football program’s jump to the FBS level reach the level of success that both he and President Gary Ransdell first envisioned.
He said it was mostly disheartening because he knows it’s “a matter of time” before the football program breaks through and is competitive in the Sun Belt.
“We generally don’t field or fund an athletic program without designs for it to be a championship-caliber program,” Selig said. “Football is no different. There’s a long-standing history of success in football here at WKU, and it’s just a matter of time before we get it back on that winning track.”
Selig will officially become Old Dominion’s new athletic director on June 30 when longtime AD Jim Jarrett retires after a 40-year career.
Selig will get the chance to work closely with Jarrett for a short time, just as he’s doing at Western now with Bjork.
When asked how he wanted to be remembered for his time at Western, Selig paused for a moment, then said that he hoped he had lived up to the expectations of everyone in Western’s athletic department and the fans.
“I would hope I was very approachable, easy to work with, an advocate for student-athletes and coaches,” he said. “I hope I’m remembered for high aspirations, high academic achievement, and never wanting to settle. Hopefully, they saw me as a hard worker with good balance and perspective.”