JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville mayor and Jacksonville University alumnus Alvin Brown has named JU director of athletics Alan Verlander as the new Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment for the City of Jacksonville.
In his seventh year leading the athletics department at JU, Verlander has overseen a dramatic transformation in the Dolphins fortunes - winning 37 conference titles in the last seven years, the most among any school in the state of Florida. Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances once again became common place under his leadership of the department.
"I want to thank Kerry (Romesburg) and the Board of Trustees for their support throughout my tenure at JU," Verlander said. "This is a difficult decision for me as I've enjoyed every minute of my time at JU. We have a tremendous group of coaches, staff and student-athletes who have been critical to our success and I feel certain that success will continue. JU is a special place and I know that there are even brighter days ahead for all of our programs. I will always be a Dolphin and hope to continue to help elevate JU Athletics, but just now in a different role."
Since coming to JU in 2005, Verlander's vision for the department has led to success on and off the field. There have been numerous facility renovations and creations, namely the installation of an AstroTurf field at D.B. Milne Field, the new Ron Autrey Family Track, the W.W. Gay Employees Entrance Pavilion, the creation of C. Peter Cost Pavilion at John Sessions Stadium, stadium and press box at softball, the renovation of Swisher Gymnasium and the athletic field house, completion of the Negaard Rowing Center. Currently construction is underway on Southern Oak Soccer Stadium, remodeled football locker room, the Swisher Golf Practice Facility and the Dolphin Sand Volleyball Facility. In all, over $10 million has been raised and spent to upgrade the JU athletic facilities.
"When we hired Alan seven years ago, he brought a dynamic vision and leadership to our athletic department, transforming our programs and rebuilding the tradition of success that has defined JU athletics," said JU President Kerry Romesburg. "This is tremendous opportunity for him and his family. I can't thank him enough for his service to JU and wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
Verlander's tenure at JU also featured the first postseason victory in basketball since 1974 and a win over Florida for the first time since 1994, the first 10-win season and national ranking in football along with two conference championships, two at-large bids and four postseason appearances in baseball, seven straight conference championships and NCAA Appearances in Track and Field, along with the addition of three new sports - men's and women's lacrosse along with sand volleyball.
One of the lasting relationships built by Verlander was with the city of Jacksonville. Starting with JU playing host to the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in 2006, Verlander has been active in bringing college events to the city and Downtown - moving all of JU's home basketball games to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in 2007, bringing back the NCAA Basketball Tournament in 2010 and creating the Moe's Southwest Grill Classic lacrosse event at EverBank Field, which debuted in 2011.
With his new position, Verlander will be a key member in Brown's staff with the city - bringing sporting events as well as concerts and shows to the venues throughout the city of Jacksonville. He will begin his new position in May. Over the next month, Romesburg will be making a decision regarding Verlander's successor.
STATEMENT FROM JU HEAD FOOTBALL COACH KERWIN BELL:
"I want to thank Alan for his friendship and for having faith in me and giving me the opportunity to lead the football program at JU. He gave me my shot in coaching at the college level and I will always be grateful to him for that. He's been a great supporter of our program and I've grown as a coach because of him. I know that his leadership has meant so much to this great university and that he will be truly missed."
STATEMENT FROM JU HEAD MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH CLIFF WARREN:
"I will always be thankful for Alan Verlander taking a chance on me as his first hire at JU and giving me the opportunity to build the men's basketball program. Without his vision, leadership and tireless work ethic, the success our program has enjoyed would not have happened. He's been more to me and my family than just an AD. I've been blessed to have him as a friend and confidant. I wish he and his family continued success in their journey and look forward to our paths crossing again in the future."