Sander to step down as VCU athletic director to become full-time director of the VCU SportsCenter

Richard L. Sander, Ed.D., announced today he will leave the position of Virginia Commonwealth University athletic director at the end of the 2005-2006 academic year.

Sander will remain at VCU as assistant to the president and director of the VCU SportsCenter, the university’s graduate program in sports leadership.

Sander said he decided to focus on the VCU SportsCenter because it is on the verge of becoming the preeminent graduate sports program in the country.

“There aren’t too many times in a career where you have a chance to take something from a concept to a reality,” Sander said. “We have a special opportunity here to take that success and build a program worthy of national and international acclaim, and that’s what I want to do.”

Sander arrived at VCU in July 1986 from Memphis State University, where he was associate athletic director. Under his leadership, VCU has averaged a top-10 ranking for broad-based athletic excellence for Division 1-AAA programs over the last eight years as determined by the National Association of College Directors of Athletics.

“What Dr. Sander has achieved is truly remarkable,” said VCU President Eugene P. Trani. “During his tenure the school’s athletic teams have been nationally ranked in six different sports and most importantly, our athletes have been among our top students academically.”

VCU’s 16 varsity sports compete at the NCAA Division I level as members of the Colonial Athletic Association. In recent years, VCU has participated in NCAA tournaments in basketball, baseball, golf, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis.

Since joining the CAA in 1995, VCU has won 25 of the total 70 men’s championships – 36 percent of all possible championships.

Sander said he considers the improvement of athletic facilities one of his major accomplishments, particularly the opening of the Stuart C. Siegel Center, which is home to men’s and women’s basketball teams and the volleyball team. The center has provided a venue for such diverse events as the NBA Players Association camp, championship competitions for the Virginia High School League, graduation ceremonies for 24 area high schools and numerous concerts and presentations.

“The Siegel Center has been significant in positioning the whole culture of the institution,” he said. “It provides a real showcase to bring people to VCU and experience a great university.”

Sander, who developed the SportsCenter, said he has several initiatives he wants to pursue as full-time director of the program, which offers a master’s degree in two tracks of study – sports management and administration and coaching. Those initiatives include expanding coaching symposiums and the Sports Marketing Research Institute, as well as creating global sports leadership study programs.

Sander said he still has some goals to reach before he officially leaves his post as athletic director, July 1, 2006. Among those are launching a major branding campaign for VCU Athletics that focuses on building pride for the teams and for the university.

“We can all be proud of our victories on and off the field knowing we have done it the right way,” Sander said. “Of all of our successes the most rewarding thing to me is seeing 20 years of student athletes grow and develop to become the type of individuals who have acquired the values necessary to be successful in their lives.”

Sander said he leaves an athletic department that is in good shape, with a sound infrastructure, that is committed not only to excellence on the field, but also to excellence as a great community citizen.

“We have a great staff and coaches who believe in our vision, are committed to our principles and who have made my job very enjoyable,” he said.

Sander, 59, is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, his master’s degree from Xavier University and his doctoral degree from the University of Cincinnati. 

A national search will be conducted for Sander’s replacement.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see