UW athletic director Todd Turner resigning
UW athletic director Todd Turner smiles as he addresses a news conference on the campus in Seattle, in this Nov. 30, 2006 file photo.
YouNewsTVâ„¢Story Published: Dec 11, 2007 at 10:37 AM PST
Story Updated: Dec 11, 2007 at 10:53 AM PST
By Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) - Washington athletic director Todd Turner abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, effective next month.
The surprising move came six days after university president Dr. Mark Emmert retained coach Tyrone Willingham despite the football team's continued struggles. Turner was a staunch advocate for Willingham.
Turner, 56, said his resignation would be effective Jan. 31. Emmert hired him in 2004, when Washington's athletic department was reeling from a series of controversies.
Turner did not immediately return a call to his cell phone seeking comment, and his office referred questions to the school's sports information department. That department announced Emmert would hold a late-morning news conference to discuss the change.
Turner was in the middle of a five-year contract worth $325,000 in base salary, with incentives that made the package potentially worth up to $420,000 annually. He had also received a low-interest, $475,000 home loan from the university.
"After conferring with president Emmert over the last few weeks, it was determined that a change in leadership in the athletics program would be in the best interests of the university," Turner said in a statement released by the school. "It is with great sadness, but with a sense of pride in what has been accomplished during my tenure as AD, that I have resigned my position effective at the end of January 2008.
"When I was hired in 2004, the president's primary charge to me was to create a culture of integrity in athletics and to reconnect the athletics program to the mainstream mission of the university. This is something the staff in athletics and I have worked at every day. I do believe we have made great progress."
One nagging area in which Turner had not made great progress was in raising money to renovate 87-year-old Husky Stadium. Turner has said it will take "in the hundreds of millions" of dollars to update the Pac-10's oldest facility to Washington's liking.
In the school's statement, Emmert credited Washington's 15th athletic director with turning around a department that had been beset by problems.
"When Todd was appointed, we needed a strong presence to restore integrity and confidence to the department and to bring to it a new level of management expertise," Emmert said. "In his time here, Todd accomplished both of these. He built a superb senior management team and set high expectations for rules compliance and integrity, candor, and student academic performance."
Emmert announced Scott Woodward, Washington's vice president for external affairs, will become the acting athletic director when Turner leaves. The school promised "a national search" for a permanent replacement.
Before coming to Washington to oversee 23 sports programs, about 650 student athletes and an annual budget of $40 million, Turner was the athletic director at Vanderbilt, from 1996-2003.
"My wife, Sara, my children, and I want to thank the UW community for accepting us as your friends as much as you did me as your athletics director," Turner said in the statement. "Our time in Seattle at the UW has been an incredible adventure we will cherish always. We will be Huskies for life!"