Gary Williams set a goal for himself years ago. He wanted to be an athletic director by the time he was 40.
On March 21, on the last day of his 30s, Williams interviewed for athletic director job at Wittenberg. He flew home to Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisc, on his 40th birthday, not knowing whether he would get the job.
On Thursday, Wittenberg announced he had. Williams will be the new AD at Wittenberg, effective June 1. The job had been open since last August when Garnett Purnell retired after 14 years. Jeff Ankrom served as interim AD.
Williams had a variety of positions at his alma mater, Carthage, since he started working there in 1997. Most recently, he was the director of student success and associate director of athletics. Carthage is a Division III school like Wittenberg.
“I really can’t say enough about how happy and excited I am for the opportunity,” Williams said. “This is going to be a tremendous thing for me and my family. We really can’t wait to get to Springfield and get to Wittenberg.”
Williams applied for the Wittenberg job when it first opened up and didn’t get an interview. Wittenberg didn’t hire any of the candidates it brought to campus and started the process over again.
This time, Williams got his chance.
“Persistence pays off,” he said. “It’s everything they talk about in athletics. … It was a great visit. Dr. (Laurie) Joyner is amazing. The staff is really passionate and loves Wittenberg. I couldn’t think of a better situation.”
Williams is a native of South Milwaukee, Wisc. He played wide receiver at Carthage. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in education. He also earned his Ph.D. in leadership in higher education from Cardinal Stritch University in 2010.
While at Carthage, he became the founding commissioner of the Continental Volleyball Conference and served as the national chair of the NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Committee. He also worked on the Carthage football coaching staff from 1997-2007.
Williams knew about Wittenberg, but seeing all the trophies and the history around the HPER Center and campus reinforced how strong the Tiger athletic programs have been over the years.
“It’s almost intimidating when you think about it,” he said. “The people, the history, the tradition, the excellence is almost unparalleled in some ways. It doesn’t matter what division you’re talking about. This is an institution that has forever been a leader in intercollegiate athletics, and it’s been a leader in higher education.”