St. Cloud State hires first female athletic directorby Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — St. Cloud State University has a new athletic director. Heather Weems is the first woman to hold that position at the school. She's also one of a small number of female athletic directors across the country.
Weems grew up in Iowa, where high school and collegiate sports are a big deal. She was raised in an environment where boys and girls had many of the same opportunities.
And it was that upbringing that set the stage for her career in athletics.
"I began when I was 6, competitive swimming, and was a four-sport athlete in high school and I did a little bit of everything," Weems said. "And I just didn't know that in a lot of cases girls didn't have access to sports other places."
Weems comes to St. Cloud State from Drake University in Des Moines. It's a private Division I school where she was an associate athletic director overseeing both woman's and men's sports. During her three years at Drake, Weems was also in charge of the school's NCAA compliance, sports medicine and academic support services for athletes.
Before that, the 37 year-old mother of four spent nearly a decade working in the athletics department at the University of Denver.
Weems said she's been mentored by pioneering women in athletics throughout her career. In the world of athletics, performance is performance -- regardless of gender.
"Certainly being a female, it puts me in an exclusive group, but I have the same expectations of myself, I have the same expectations of my staff that I would regardless of gender," she said.
Women account for only 20 percent of all college athletic directors. So for many, Weems' new position symbolizes a move toward greater equality in college athletics.
Linda Carpenter is Professor Emerita at Brooklyn College. She's co-authored a study on women in college athletics.
There are now 216 female college athletic directors in the U.S. according to Linda Carpenter, professor emerita at Brooklyn College who co-authored a study on women in college athletics.
Heather Weems is one of 47 female ADs at Division II schools. St. Cloud State falls into the Division II category, with the exception of its men's hockey team, which competes at the Division I level
"Women need to see females in leadership positions, role models if you will," said Carpenter. "Males see males in positions of leadership everywhere they look in our society. Women don't."
Weems takes over for Athletic Director Morris Kurtz, who's retiring after 27 years on the job. She said she expects there will be an adjustment period as she joins the department.
"I feel like I'm a student, not only of athletics, but of higher education," said Weems. "I'm continually learning and I expect that other people do that as well."
Weems began her new job on Friday. She's signed an 18-month contract at a salary of $125,000 per year.