By BeLynn Hollers, BA ’21
After 26 years, University of Dallas Athletics Director Richard Strockbine retired on July 1. Subsequent to starting his position in 1995, Strockbine transformed the Athletics Department from NAIA to NCAA Division III.
“When I got here, we had seven sports and 79 athletes. Now we have 15 and about 270 athletes. Athletes make up about 20% of the student body now,” said Strockbine.
Strockbine is a graduate of Bethany College in West Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in history and played both football and baseball. Following college, he served in the Air Force for 22 years before starting a career in college athletics.
“I was very fortunate. I enjoyed the Air Force, and I thought I would look for another career that I would enjoy as well. College athletics was it,” he said.
During his time at UD, athletics teams have won 13 championships, with six teams and two individuals qualifying for NCAA tournaments/championships.
Strockbine credits Monsignor Miliam Joseph, former president of the university, for a renewal in student life and athletics during his tenure. He noted that the university is in good hands with the new athletics director, Jarred Samples, BA ’01, and President Jonathan Sanford’s leadership.
“I think the university is finally on track to do the things that need to be done. I think President Sanford has a good understanding of athletics and what it takes,” Strockbine said.
Former women’s soccer player Tori Fleharty, BA ’18, a politics major with a legal concentration, explained that Strockbine was a fortifying figure throughout her academic and athletic career.
“He was at every home game, whether a soccer game — where he was always in his folding chair on the right corner side of the pitch — or a basketball game — at the first bar circle table at the top of the stands, sitting on a blanket that he kept in his office for that purpose,” Fleharty wrote.
Fleharty was a student worker in the Athletics Department, where she got to know Stockbine better.
“Every single day I would come to work and chat with him about his day or even sometimes about his life. We would talk about sports, my classes, his time as a coach, as well as his time in the Air Force,” wrote Fleharty. “He was always extremely welcoming and always had time to talk with me. During my time there I was on Student Government and the newspaper, and he was always more than willing to help me out with an article that I was writing or provide me with some insight into the athletics program if SG needed more information.”
Professor Emeritus of History Thomas Jodziewicz, Ph.D., explained that Strockbine “has a good sense of the academic culture at UD and its demands on our students.”
Strockbine understood that UD athletes were “student-athletes.”
“Academics must always be in first place here, but our teams of student-athletes have been quite competitive under his leadership. This includes his hire of excellent coaches who, under his direction, set high standards for their players, including campus citizenship and team responsibilities,” Jodziewicz wrote.
Jodziewicz grew to admire Strockbine, especially his success with limited resources.
“Over the years I grew to admire his honesty, and his sense of the realities facing athletics at UD. Our resources do not quite match those of others in our conference, but he has always encouraged all of us to do our best in the interests of our students,” wrote Jodziewicz. “He is a man of no pretense, but a man of honor.”
On the same day that Strockbine retired, he also celebrated his 49th year of marriage to his wife, Deborah; they have five children. Strockbine has been awarded the title of UD athletic director emeritus.