Ted Leland to resign post as athletics director after successful 14 years

Ted Leland

Ted Leland

After a 14-year tenure that included 11 Directors' Cups, 50 national team championships and noteworthy improvements in fundraising and athletic facilities, Director of Athletics Ted Leland announced Tuesday that he will leave his post at the university, effective Jan. 1.

Leland has accepted the position of vice president for university advancement at the University of the Pacific, his alma mater, and said at a press conference that he viewed his new position as an opportunity to "re-pot" himself in a new career track.

"It's been a privilege to be the athletic director at Stanford," Leland said. "I have so many loyalties and I owe so much to this place and to the people here that it was difficult to look at the president and the provost when they said, 'We'd like you to stay,' and for me to have to say, 'I can't.'"

In his new position, Leland will oversee fundraising and alumni relations on all three of the university's campuses and will hold a non-tenurable academic appointment as a professor in the College of the Pacific, the university's school of arts and sciences. Leland earned his bachelor's degree in 1970 and his master's degree in 1972 from the University of the Pacific. He played football and coached at the school before returning as the director of athletics from 1989 to 1991.

President John Hennessy praised Leland's successes in a variety of areas, including his emphasis on the well-being of student athletes, his national leadership on issues including the importance of Title IX and his emphasis on sportsmanship in the face of a win-at-all-costs attitude of many athletic programs.

"Ted Leland's name has become synonymous in the world of collegiate athletics with excellence," Hennessy said. "He has maintained the highest ethical standards while leading one of the most successful college athletic programs in the country. Ted's contributions to the university are too numerous to mention, but suffice it to say that he will be greatly missed, even as we wish him the greatest success at the University of the Pacific."

Leland was hired as the Jaquish and Kenninger Director of Athletics in June 1991 and oversaw a department that won 11 prestigious Directors' Cups, emblematic of the top athletic program in the nation. Under his directorship, the university has won 50 national team championships and 173 conference championships, including an NCAA record six national titles in 1996-97. The university has won more NCAA championships than any other school in the nation during Leland's tenure.

The department also raised more than $270 million in private donations, and its assets and endowments have grown from $52 million to $374.9 million during Leland's tenure. Leland also helped secure about $185 million in funding for new or renovated athletic facilities, including an upcoming renovation of Stanford Stadium.

Leland said he was proud of the trophies and titles that the athletics program earned during his tenure, but he said he was most proud of various athletes that succeeded beyond their particular sport and excelled as students and citizens. He also acknowledged the "regrettable" timing of his announcement, coming on the heels of recent disappointments in the university's high-profile football program, but said he felt it was good for the Department of Athletics to have new leadership.

"You can make a cogent argument that if there are any ideas, any energy, any talent that I haven't been able to bring to the task here at Stanford athletics for the last 15 years, where is it?" Leland said. "Maybe it's better for someone else—and I think it is—to come in with their own energy, their own ideas."

Hennessy said the university will move quickly to launch an internal and external search process that hopefully will yield a replacement candidate before Leland's departure.