Photo by Corinne Nicholson
By Will Hammock
Georgia Gwinnett College announced its first athletic director Thursday, tabbing Darin Wilson of Union College (Ky.) to head up the school's transition into intercollegiate athletics.
Wilson, 38, has been Union's athletic director since 2003, when he was promoted after a five-year tenure as the school's baseball coach. He spent a total of 18 years at the Barbourville, Ky., college, beginning when he was a baseball player there.
Union competes at the NAIA level, the division where GGC intends to apply for membership.
"There is no doubt that Darin is the right person to kick start the Grizzlies' new intercollegiate athletics program, and we are truly excited to have him join the Georgia Gwinnett team," GGC president Daniel Kaufman said. "Varsity sports will enhance the college's vision of a fully integrated educational experience. Students who are engaged in college stay in college, and this new level of athletics will provide even more incentive for students to get involved, stay in school and graduate."
GGC has released plans for its athletic facilities and has planned six intercollegiate sports teams for the 2012-13 school year -- baseball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's tennis and fastpitch softball. The school is considering the addition of men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball for the 2013-14 school year.
Union's athletic facilities were upgraded heavily during Wilson's tenure as AD, including the addition of synthetic turf to the college's football and soccer field. At GGC, he will oversee the construction of an entire sports complex.
That was a big lure of the job to Wilson, who has spent his entire life in Kentucky, much of it at Union College.
"I'm really pleased with what we've been able to do at Union," Wilson said. "I saw the (GGC) opening and it really intrigued me. And the more I learned about the college, the mission and vision of the college, I got more interested. The ability to start an athletic program from the ground up excites me. And it's farther south, so it's warmer. It was going to take a unique situation for me to leave (Union), and this is both unique and challenging.
"I'm excited about the job, but I'm also excited about the area. The area's going to be a good place to raise our family (wife Patti, 10-year-old son Drew and 7-year-old daughter Mara). Like I said, it was going to take a unique situation for us to move."
Wilson is a three-time Appalachian Athletic Conference Athletic Director of the Year who also served as vice president of the league. He was the 2009-10 Under Armour AD of the Year for the NAIA's Southeast Region after guiding Union to its first AAC All-Sports Trophy.
Union teams won 37 AAC regular-season and tournament championships during Wilson's tenure, as well as six NAIA Region XII titles.
"The Grizzlies will be competitive across the board, including on a national level, very quickly," Wilson said. "Our coaches will motivate and inspire our athletes to be the best they can be, which includes helping them to grow and develop personally. I plan to move quickly in hiring great coaches and organizing our program so we can be ready to field competitive teams next year."
Wilson said he hopes to have all of GGC's coaching positions advertised before he reports to his new job Aug. 15. Hiring coaches quickly, particularly for soccer since its season starts in August 2012, is important so they can begin recruiting the Lawrenceville college's first intercollegiate athletes.