Stewart ranked second best Non-Power Five AD

WKU's Director of Athletics, Todd Stewart sits as the second-best Non-Power Five AD according to rankings by Stadium.
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 3:57 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Stadium’s Jeff Goodman and Brett McMurphy recently released their rankings for the top 12 current athletic directors from non-Power Five schools, with Western Kentucky’s Todd Stewart finishing at number two on the list.

Stewart took over as WKU’s director of athletics in 2012. The rankings by Stadium focus primarily on the school’s football and men’s basketball programs during the AD’s tenure. The four football coaches hired by Stewart, Bobby Petrino, Jeff Brohm, Mike Sanford, and current head coach Tyson Helton, have a combined winning percentage of .622 as well as winning four bowl games in the last six years. The Hilltoppers won back-to-back C-USA championships in 2015 and 2016 under Brohm.

Rick Stansbury came to the hill as the men’s basketball coach in 2016 and has consistently been a team in contention to make the NCAA Tournament. The Hilltoppers 20 wins this last season made WKU one of 44 programs to win at least 20 games in three consecutive seasons.

“I think it’s recognition of the fact that we’ve had multiple coaches in football and obviously Rick Stansbury in men’s basketball who have achieved at a very high level,” Stewart said. “I think it’s nice that it was recognized.”

Since joining Conference USA in 2014, WKU leads the league in conference championships with 27. Those championships are spread out across seven programs. All this success while ranking 12th out 14 schools in total budget. WKU is the only FBS school to lead its league in conference championships and in the bottom 25 percent in budget.

“We certainly have to maximize our resources,” Stewart said. “We’re not twelfth in desire and we’re not twelfth in work ethic, we’re probably number one in those. I think what we have is a lot of really special people who do a very good job. The fact that we lead the conference in championships while ranking in the bottom 25 percent in budget makes us unique.

Women’s Basketball has made it to the big dance back-to-back in 2014 and 2015 and again 2017 and 2018. This past season, WKU volleyball finished the season 32-2, winning the conference regular season and tournament championship. The Tops also went on to host their first-ever NCAA Tournament match. WKU softball was named one of five mid-major programs to watch in 2021 by Softball America.

“Ultimately it’s about winning championships,” Stewart said. “That’s always been our goal, it always will be our goal and it’s nice that is being recognized.”

Stewart said when he travels across the country to various sporting events and athletic director meetings, he always feels there is a sense of respect for the achievements of WKU.

“We definitely have a winning culture,” Stewart said. “That’s due to the success we’ve had across the board for quite some time now.”

Stewart said he certainly doesn’t want to lose good coaches. However, when those coaches do leave, the successful culture of WKU makes the hill a very desirable place to be and has kept athletics moving in the right direction.

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