MONMOUTH — Just when Curtis Campbell was getting used to the rain, he’s saying goodbye to Oregon and heading back to the east coast, back to where his roots are.
After a three-year stint at Western Oregon University, Campbell announced his resignation as the Director of Athletics, effective in May.
“I really enjoyed my time here,” he said. “That’s the thing about it: I was very content and happy, and I still am today. I was getting used to the weather — the rain, and the gray skies for eight months. It’s different, and it’s a little chilly. I can’t count the number of people who told me when I moved here I need to take vitamin D, and that there’s not going to be any sun in the winter.”
The decision to leave WOU, and Oregon, was based largely on wanting to make the journey back to where his family is.
“I got an offer from Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia,” Campbell said. “My family and everybody is from the east coast,” he said. “I was born and raised in Virginia, my wife was born and raised in Virginia, we’re from the same hometown; and honestly, I’m getting a little older now, and I didn’t know, if I turned down this opportunity, how many other opportunities I would get two years from now to get back geographically to my family.”
It wasn’t an easy decision to make.
“I would have loved to stay at WOU another year or two, but again, now I have to start thinking, as I said, I’m getting a little older, so there were a number of things that played into that decision,” Campbell said. “I really enjoyed it here, and I wasn’t looking at the time. This opportunity sort of came to me.”
In the three years Campbell has been the AD, he worked with WOU President Dr. Rex Fuller to set the precedent for what the athletics department should look like, including increasing scholarships by $200,00 across all sports, giving the student-athletes priority registration, and signing an exclusive contract with Corvallis Clinic to the be the sole medical provider for WOU athletes.
Additionally, he hired head soccer coach Kacey Bingham, who led the Wolves women’s soccer team to a successful 2019 season, and also hired head volleyball coach Stacy Metro and head men’s basketball coach Wes Pifer, both of whom came from Division I coaching backgrounds.
Campbell also instituted upgrades to the facilities, helping to install new drainage systems at the soccer field, and in the outfields of the softball and baseball fields, which allowed the Wolves to host several Great Northwest Athletic Conference games last season.
None of these accomplishments, Campbell said, would have been possible without the support of the school and the community.
“When you talk about an AD, I am primarily an advocate for athletics, but in order to get things accomplished, you have to have the support of the president,” he said. “And I was fortunate that Rex (Fuller) was very supportive and believed in athletics. It’s teamwork, it’s a team approach: Student-athletes did their part — we now have a 3.2 grade average for over 320 student-athletes — The coaches did a great job. So it’s just a team effort.
“Me by myself, I can’t do anything, I can have the vision, but it takes us all working together to accomplish goals.”
That’s what he’ll miss the most — the people he worked alongside and got to know over the last three years.
“I’m going to genuinely miss Rex. I’m going to miss my staff, Randi (Lydum), my No. 2 person, who has been great the whole time,” he said. “The alum. The students. Even our physical plant workers, the guys who took care of our field, who cut and painted the football fields, soccer, baseball fields. So just everybody. I’m gonna miss the people.”
Campbell’s interaction with Rex during his interview was what solidified Campbell’s decision to work at WOU.
“When I came for the interview, I met Rex (Fuller) and, the time that we spent together, and his vision for athletics and where he felt athletics ranked and the goals he had for athletics, sold me. So I came primarily based on my interaction in the interview with him. He’s a great president, and he has a tough job as far as running the university and keeping everybody happy.”
As highly as Campbell speaks of Fuller, Fuller in turn has a lot of good things to say about Campbell.
“I want to thank Curtis for his tireless efforts to stress athletic and academic excellence during his tenure as athletic director at WOU,” Fuller said. “In my experience, he provided consistent leadership and supported Western’s student athletes and coaches in full measure. I wish him well in his new position at Morehouse College.”
As he wraps up his time in Monmouth, Campbell said he is going to look back fondly at his time spent here.
“I can’t say enough about the people, everyone was very helpful and welcoming to me the whole time I was here,” he said. “And the alum support that I received while I was here was just amazing. So again, I’m going to very much miss the folk.”
Lydum, who has been the associate athletic director for internal affairs and the senior woman’s administrator since 2012, is now taking over as interim director of athletics.