Under the direction of the new sports director Dan BartholomeWestern Michigan University’s athletics department announced a new organizational structure, several staff title promotions, and a number of athletic administrator appointments to support the continued development of the Athletic Department’s strategic plan, continued growth in key administrative areas of athletics, and to directly support the holistic development of over 370 Bronco student-athletes.
The new organizational structure includes an executive staff of eight, with defined areas of oversight to increase operational efficiency, improve collaboration between departmental units and assign accountability for delivery of departmental priorities .
The structure also allows for a 6-person athletic administration team, intended to provide direct administrative support to all of the Bronco’s head coaches and athletic programs.
“I am thrilled to officially announce this important organizational effort, aimed at strengthening our department and better supporting our student-athletes as we look to the future of intercollegiate athletics. Using feedback I received directly from our SWOT survey and gap/organizational analysis, I believe we have assembled a team of talented professionals to serve our three most important groups of people: student-athletes ; Academic/external partners; and athletic department coaches/staff.”
In addition to Bartholomae, who will continue as sports administrator of the football program, the management team includes the following new recruits:
Elaine RussellSenior Associate Sports Director, External Operations
Russell returned to West Michigan in April after spending the last 8 years at another MAC school, Buffalo. Russell will serve as Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Operations and will oversee a number of areas including ticketing, marketing, communications, branding and sponsorships. Russell will also participate in the department’s NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) initiatives in the areas of student-athlete digital branding assets and related content. She will also serve as athletic administrator for volleyball, men’s basketball and softball. She will also support the Band, Cheer and Dance programs as a sports administrator.
Julian JonesSenior Associate Director of Athletics, Broncos Empowered and Championship Culture
Jones joined the Bronco family in early August as the first-ever Senior Associate Athletic Director for Broncos Empowered and Championship Culture. As the leader of the Broncos Empowered program, Jones will lead initiatives that support WMU Athletics’ goal of leading the country in the holistic development of its student-athletes, while strengthening community partnerships and managing the professional development of staff and athletic department coaches. Jones’ role also includes managing the WMU Athletics “W” Club and implementing educational initiatives for student-athletes and the community surrounding NIL. He will also have sports administration duties for women’s soccer and share duties for women’s cross country and track and field.
Lorne RobertsonSenior Associate Director of Sports, Administration, Studies and Compliance
Robertson also arrived in Kalamazoo in early August as Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration, Studies and Compliance. Robertson will oversee the academic support services unit for the department’s 370 student-athletes and will also oversee the department’s governance and NCAA compliance efforts. His duties will include leading the sports administration team and he will also lead the further development of West Michigan’s NIL policy and program. Robertson will also have sports administration duties for men’s soccer, men’s tennis and baseball.
In addition to these new hires, other members of the leadership team include:
Keanah SmithSenior Deputy Director of Athletics for Internal Operations and Senior Women’s Administrator
Smith has been a member of WMU Athletics since August 2018 and serves the department as Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Administrator. Smith oversees athletic department facilities and event management units, while leading key department initiatives such as the diversity and inclusion task force. Smith will guide the Athletics Department’s strategic planning process and participate in the upcoming Athletics Facilities Master Plan. She will have sports administration duties for women’s basketball, gymnastics and share duties for women’s cross country and track and field.
Elisabeth KnipsDeputy Director of Sports, Business Operations/CFO
Knips has been a member of the athletic department since June 2016. She is responsible for all business and financial operations of the department, which include business operations, budget management, IT and equipment services. She also serves as a liaison with the WMU Office of Human Resources. She will act as sports administrator for women’s tennis and women’s golf.
Finally, Bartholomae announced the following two promotions and new members of the management team:
Jim CulhaneSenior Associate Athletic Director/Senior Director of Athletic Advancement
Culhane was recently promoted to Senior Associate Athletic Director/Senior Director of Athletic Advancement. Culhane has been part of the Bronco sports family since he was a Bronco hockey student-athlete. Reporting to University Advancement, his primary role is to oversee all fundraising efforts for the department, including major gifts and the Bronco Athletic Fund. He also serves as a liaison between the department and the Academic Advancement and Alumni Association teams.
“This new structure is just one step towards developing a clear strategic plan for Athletics. We look forward to working together on several new initiatives, which will include a bold and comprehensive master plan for athletics facilities; further development of the Broncos Empowered program; advocate for sports programs that compete at the highest levels of the MAC/NCHC; high-quality community engagement and donors; new innovative and aggressive revenue generation efforts; a strong NIL program for student-athletes; and create a welcoming and inclusive professional environment for student-athletes and staff. »
Bartholomae also announced the following additional promotions for department staff:
Anthony DiCarloassistant athletic director, Bronco Productions
Dicarlo was promoted in June to assistant athletic director at Bronco Productions. DiCarlo will oversee Bronco Productions and the creative team that is responsible for all digital content generated for the department. He is also responsible for all phases of ESPN 3/+ productions hosted for the department.
Adam BodnarDirector, Athletic Communications
Another longtime member of the athletic department, Bodnar served as the associate manager and primary media contact for the Bronco Hockey team. In July, Bodnar was promoted to director of strategic athletic communications and will be the primary media contact for the Bronco football team.
Elysee Perryassistant athletic director for advancement
Perry was promoted to assistant athletic director for advancement. His duties include managing all suite sales for Bronco Football, sourcing key donors and stakeholders, and other strategic fundraising initiatives. She also champions WMU Athletics’ role in the University’s annual Giving Day.
Jared Willisdeputy athletic director of the Bronco Athletic Fund,
Willis has been promoted to assistant athletic director for the Bronco Athletic Fund. He will be responsible for all annual fundraising initiatives, including priority seating contributions to football, basketball and hockey.
Daniel WaleAssistant Director, Medical Services.
Walen was promoted to assistant director of medical services. Walen primarily works with men’s and women’s football while overseeing the Seelye Sports Training Centre. He is also an assistant professor in the graduate athletic training program.
“We are pleased to recognize the significant efforts of our staff and appreciate their talent, drive and passion for WMU athletics,” Bartholomae said. “These individuals all play important roles in prioritizing the student-athlete experience at WMU and are considered leaders in their respective fields..”