BY JEFF EVANS, Californian staff writer email@example.com
Last fall, Ryan Beckwith submitted a job application to Bakersfield College.
"I was hoping one day I could coach here," Beckwith said Wednesday.
He got his wish when he was hired as an assistant track coach for the 2011 season.
Turns out that was just one small step on the way to bigger things.
Starting today, Beckwith will oversee all Renegade coaches and every aspect of the athletic department as BC's sixth athletic director since the community college moved to its current East Bakersfield campus in 1955.
"I couldn't be more pleased or more excited," said Beckwith, 32. "When I was in school, the reason I got my master's degree was for this purpose. One of the longstanding goals I've had is being an athletic director one day and here I am."
Terms of Beckwith's contract won't be finalized until the Aug. 11 meeting of the Kern Community College Board of Trustees, BC President Greg Chamberlain said after Wednesday's press conference introducing Beckwith. Beckwith's annual salary will fall in the $100,000-$117,000 range, according to the posted job specifications.
Dan O'Connor, the dean who oversees athletics and physical education at BC, and chairman of the athletic director search committee, said there were more than 65 applicants.
Beckwith was chosen over two other finalists. O'Connor declined to identify the other finalists.
"It was a long search process," O'Connor said. "We literally invited people from across the country to talk with us.
"We had some great local people. We had great people from Division I programs across the country who were in associate AD roles or assistant ADs."
Beckwith has never been an athletic director before. He was a strength and conditioning coach and assistant track coach at other institutions.
He worked in athletic marketing at UCLA and helped develop fundraising plans at the University of Georgia.
"There had never been a position that really attracted me," Beckwith said. "I was trying to stay patient in my career because I knew that once I became an athletic director I would be so invested in that community, in that (athletic) program that that's where I would be the rest of my life."
O'Connor said committee members were not fazed by Beckwith's lack of athletic director experience.
"It is a concern ... but what I felt was really key: The coaches on the committee and the other members of the committee felt so strongly about Ryan. ... We felt he had the basic stuff and he's got tremendous upside."
Chamberlain said Beckwith's personalty and various experiences in athletics impressed him.
"If you spend time with him, you see he is truly a student athlete himself," Chamberlain said. "He has great ideas about supporting athletics. He's a big believer in the value of athletics for students.
"But beyond that, I believe his experiences at Georgia and UCLA have given him a broad experience that he's going to be able to bring to Bakersfield."
Beckwith, a former college football player at Cal State Northridge and track athlete at Northridge and the University of Georgia, earned his bachelor's degree in communication studies at Northridge in 2001 and his master's in sports management at Georgia in 2003.
He moved to Bakersfield last fall to be closer to his fiancee, Kalli Park, and became familiar with BC as a track assistant.
Beckwith's career path changed when Jan Stuebbe announced his retirement last December, effective June 30, after 13 years on the job.
"When I heard the position was opening, I jumped at the chance," Beckwith said. "Jan's on vacation now so I haven't had a chance to sit down with him. But you can bet I'll be sitting down with Jan and picking his brain and having him help me in the transition."
Stuebbe, in a telephone interview from Florida, said he thinks Beckwith "will be great" for BC.
"It's not rocket science," Stuebbe said when asked about Beckwith's biggest challenge. "It's going to take some time. It's just a learning curve. But he'll have some good help with (assistant AD) Sandi Taylor and Dan O'Connor."
Renovation of the Gil Bishop Sports Center, where BC plays basketball and volleyball contests, and the replacement of Memorial Stadium's track surface are two pricey and huge needs Beckwith inherits, Stuebbe said.
"Obviously you've got to find a way to pay for them," Stuebbe said. "It's only going to get more expensive the longer we wait."
Beckwith said his immediate goal is to meet as soon as possible with athletic department personnel.
"I want to get all of us together as a team," he said. "We've got to build that relationship, that trust, and whatever we decide as a team to make that first priority, that's what we'll do."
Beckwith has been training as a decathlete with the goal of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. But he acknowledges that goal has taken a back seat.
"My commitment is to Bakersfield College," he said. "This is a lifetime decision for me. I could not pass this up."