Dec. 1, 2010
MALIBU, Calif. - Pepperdine University's Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Dr. Steve Potts, will assume the role of Director of Athletics on January 1, according to an announcement made today by Pepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton. Potts replaces John Watson, Ed.D., who served as Athletics Director for 13 years and is planning to return to the classroom as a member of the Pepperdine faculty.
"Pepperdine's athletics program has a rich history of competing with distinction," commented Benton, adding, "John has served with uncommon devotion and has laid the groundwork for the next stage of athletics' journey to national prominence."
Pepperdine has a long-standing tradition of competing at the highest level while putting student-athletes first, noted Benton: "During Dr. Watson's tenure as athletics director, Pepperdine won national championships in men's volleyball and men's tennis. Since its founding in 1937, the university has earned a total of nine NCAA championships in five different sports."
In addition, Pepperdine has won the NCAA Division I-AAA All-Sports Trophy twice and the West Coast Conference Commissioner's Cup three times. Said Benton, "Under Dr. Watson, Pepperdine has won nearly two-third of all athletic contests we've entered and we did so ethically and with a focus on the student. As the 'coach' of our coaches, Dr. Watson's teams won more than 2,200 games, 52 conference tournaments and 21 league regular-season titles."
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Dr. Watson will serve as special assistant to the president and represent Pepperdine as the university prepares to host the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Regional at Staples Center.
President Benton noted that the selection of Steve Potts to succeed Watson had been discussed and planned for several years, and was a major step forward in the university's plans to elevate Pepperdine to national athletics prominence.
"We invited Steve, his wife, Jaimie (a double alumna of Pepperdine), and their children, Tyler and Tanner, to return to Pepperdine three years ago for just this purpose. John and I knew we wanted Steve to one day assume this important role."
A graduate of the University of Tennessee-Martin, Potts holds a Juris Doctor from Pepperdine's School of Law. After practicing law in Nashville, he returned to Pepperdine as an associate dean at the School of Law, and eventually followed a call to athletic administration by serving with distinction at Lipscomb University as their Director of Athletics.
There, he led the University in its transition to a Division I school and guided the Lipscomb program with great skill into the Atlantic Sun Conference, where the school flourished. Important for Pepperdine's future, Potts oversaw the construction of a 5,000-seat, multi-purpose events center, as well as dramatic improvements to soccer, baseball and training facilities.
"Pepperdine's dreams for the future success of our athletics program will be fulfilled on Steve's watch," concluded Benton. "I am confident we can win at the highest levels of competition while adhering closely to the University's mission and placing the student first in the complex student-athlete equation. In Steve Potts we have a worthy successor, a known entity and a proven winner."
Quote from Dr. Steve Potts:
"John Watson has served Pepperdine Athletics with great distinction and, I am thrilled to add, will continue to do so in many other ways. It has been my pleasure to serve under his leadership for the last two and a half years. He has been a valuable friend and mentor in preparation for this transition.
"The opportunity to serve as the Director of Athletics at Pepperdine University is one for which I am truly grateful. I sincerely appreciate President Benton's expression of confidence and support and look forward to continuing my work with an incredibly talented group of coaches and staff. We are all excited with the challenge of fulfilling Dr. Benton's vision for a nationally prominent athletic program at a University committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values."
Quote from Dr. John Watson:
"This June I will celebrate 40 years as a member of the Pepperdine family, 26 of those years with some direct association with Athletics. During these years I have had a variety of exciting opportunities but none as challenging and exciting as working with our Athletics program. Even after all these years I am amazed by the caliber of coaches and student-athlete drawn to Pepperdine, let alone their outstanding athletic success.
"For the past year I have been assessing how we best continue to build a strong competitive program that graduates its student-athletes, plays by the rules and honors the Christian mission of Pepperdine. I concluded this assessment with a report to President Benton on how we might best reach these objectives. At the same time, to accomplish these goals I felt new energy, vision and leadership was essential and that Steve Potts was the best person for Pepperdine to lead the department into this new era. Steve is an amazing man, with wonderful leadership qualities and a strong work ethic. For nearly three years we have partnered on every aspect of the department's operation, and for over a year all the head coaches have been reporting directly to him. He is the right person for the future and now is the time for his leadership to begin."