Butikofer Departs for Purdue, Corum Named Interim Athletic Director
By SUU Strategic Communication
Jason Butikofer Departs for Purdue, Debbie Corum Named Interim Athletic Director
CEDAR CITY, Utah – Southern Utah University announces Deborah Corum as interim athletic director following the departure of Jason Butikofer who will join Purdue University as the deputy athletics director.
"SUU's Department of Athletics has experienced significant growth in every area under the leadership of Jason Butikofer. I am honored to be provided the opportunity to lead the coaches and staff as we continue to fulfill the athletic department's and the University's initiatives,” Corum said. “We will work to provide the best opportunity for our student-athletes academically, competitively, and to have a positive impact on our community. It is with humility and thankfulness for President Wyatt's confidence in my cumulative experience over the last few decades that I accept this challenge to lead an incredible team. This is a dream come true but better than I imagined because I will be working at an institution and in a location that I have grown to love. As I always tell the young men and women I mentor, 'you can never dream big enough.' That surely was true in this situation."
Corum will fill the position after serving as the senior associate athletic director - senior woman administrator since May of 2016 where she provided leadership and direction with respect to academic services, Title IX liaison, student-athlete welfare, community relations, sport supervision, and as a member of the executive leadership team.
“I am grateful Debbie Corum has agreed to serve as our interim athletic director. No one, who has ever worked at SUU, has had more experience in all levels of athletics than she,” president Scott L Wyatt said. “What I especially appreciate is her deep interest in the well-being and success of our students. We will be in good hands with her leadership.”
Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, Corum was the senior associate athletic director- senior woman administrator at the University of Connecticut. In total, Corum has over 23 years of intercollegiate administration experience.
Former director of athletics Jason Butikofer is resigning and taking the position of deputy athletic director at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
“Jason effectively gave four years of work to SUU athletics during the two years he was in Cedar City. He invested his whole heart in us. I have rarely seen a more committed and hard-working person than him,” Wyatt said. “To say he took us to the next level would be an understatement. It is a credit to Jason and SUU that he was able to move from SUU to the second position at Purdue. We all wish him the very best.”
At the helm of the Thunderbird program, Butikofer has spent the last two years overseeing 17 athletic programs, coaches, staff, and more than 350 student-athletes. He also served as a member of President Scott Wyatt's Cabinet.
“Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for having the opportunity to lead Southern Utah Athletics for the last two years. Special thank you to President Wyatt for his unwavering support and to Board of Trustee Chairman Eric Leavitt for his constant counsel and encouragement,” Butikofer said. “Without a doubt I will deeply miss the people associated with this institution but will forever cherish the memories and progress that we made. As we move forward I look forward to watching the continued elevation of T-Bird Nation.”
Since his arrival at SUU, Butikofer has been a part of two Big Sky Championships (2015 football and 2015 men's cross country) and has hired five new head coaches. From 2015 to 2016, Southern Utah advanced 11 spots nationally in the Learfield Director's Cup, a program that honors institutions which maintain a broad-based program, achieving success in many sports, both men's and women's. SUU athletics also finished with the second-highest score among all Big Sky Conference institutions in the standings.
Butikofer was also responsible for overall vision, leadership and strategic direction for the University's athletic program. He led the charge in maximizing fundraising successes by forming the Thunderbird Athletic Foundation (TAF), a foundation that combines the efforts of the former TD Club and Thunderbird Athletic Club for donations to better serve the athletic department and student-athletes as a whole instead of individually by sport. Butikofer and SUU's development team saw significant increases in corporate sponsorship revenue (up 125% from 2015-16 to 2016-17), individual donors, and overall revenue going into 2017.
Under Butikofer's direction, SUU's capital project of a new sports performance center will break ground in July of 2017. This facility—which will also become a highlight for recruiting visits—will greatly benefit all 350 student-athletes. The efficiency of better training schedules will support class participation, increase academic rigor and allow for greater community involvement.
Butikofer's guidance in coordinating marketing and promotion activities also increased ticket sales revenue as SUU set an all-time high in this department in 2016-17. Football attendance increased from 3,261 average attendees per game in 2014 to 8,255 average attendees per game in 2016 representing a 153% increase. A single game attendance record of 10,306 was set at SUU's homecoming game vs. Portland State in 2016.
Under Butikofer's leadership, the athletic department put an emphasis on student-athlete welfare - including the formation of a comprehensive support staff for academics. Since Butikofer's arrival, 195 student-athletes have received Academic All-Conference honors (139 in the 2015-16 academic year, and 56 in the fall of 2016-17 academic year). At the time of Butikofer's departure, the Thunderbird student-athletes held a cumulative GPA of 3.3157.
"We knew when Jason was hired that we weren't going to have the privilege of having him for a long time," Chair for the Board of Trustees Eric Leavitt said. "We're sorry to see him go, but we wish him the very best and are grateful for all he has done for the athletic program."
Butikofer strengthened SUU athletic relationships in many areas on campus and throughout the community and played a significant role in elevating positive exposure for the University during his time at SUU.
President Scott L. Wyatt and Southern Utah University will be hosting a farewell reception for Butikofer on July 10. More details will be released as date nears.
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