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Meet Mike Snyder, PLU’s New Director of Athletics and Recreation

Meet Mike Snyder, PLU’s New Director of Athletics and Recreation

Posted by:
May 25, 2021

Pacific Lutheran University and President Allan Belton are excited to announce Mike Snyder as the new Director of Athletics and Recreation, following a national search.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Mike to the Lute family,” said Belton. “He brings proven experience and an exciting vision for PLU athletics and recreation that will build on tradition, focus on the student experience, and elevate the national profile of Lute athletics. Mike was the overwhelming choice of the hiring committee made up of students, staff, faculty, and alumni.”

Snyder heads to Tacoma after spending the previous seven years as Director of Athletics at fellow Division III institution Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois. While at Illinois College, Snyder oversaw an athletic department with 23 varsity sports and nearly 500 student-athletes. (PLU has 19 varsity sports and more than 450 student-athletes.)

“I would like to thank President Belton and the hiring committee for this opportunity,” said Snyder. “My family and I are thrilled to join the Lute community and cannot wait to get to know all the student-athletes, alumni, staff, and faculty who make PLU such a wonderful institution.”

“When I look at Pacific Lutheran, I see a long and storied history of athletic success across multiple sports. This foundation has been built on the legacy of our alumni, and I look forward to partnering with them and others on campus to elevate the entire department to the top of the Northwest Conference and to be a mainstay on the national level.”

PLU Athletics

Snyder’s tenure saw IC tally its highest-ever finish in the Midwest Conference All-Sport Standings, as well as an institutional record for All-Conference athletes. A proven leader, Snyder oversaw $4 million worth of capital projects, including renovations to the College’s baseball and softball stadiums, the resurfacing of its indoor track, and a weight room renovation and expansion.

He also spearheaded a proactive Title IX audit that led to a plan for equitable operations, created innovative varsity programs in esports and competitive dance and cheer, and negotiated sponsorship deals with Collegiate Sports Management Group, Gatorade, BSN Sports, and two charter bus companies.

“I’m excited for Mike to lead our athletic department,” said Head Volleyball Coach Kevin Aoki. “He has a proven track record of success at the Division III level and has the vision and leadership to take PLU athletics to the next level.”

“As we went through our finalist experience on-campus I could visibly see that the staff, students, and faculty Mike engaged with were energized by his vision and leadership,” said Associate Dean of Admission Melody Ferguson. “Mike will bring a fresh perspective to PLU while still being able to identify with our mission of service, leadership, inquiry, and care, and values of diversity, justice, and sustainability. Mike is a lifelong learner, something highly valued by the staff and faculty at PLU, and he’s committed to always bettering himself and the program — and we could see that in his work at his previous institution.”

“I have been fortunate to learn, grow, and lead across multiple NCAA Division III institutions in my career,” said Snyder. “My stops at Oberlin College and Illinois College have been incredibly valuable, as they have molded my education and understanding of Division III athletics and have prepared me for the opportunity at PLU. I look forward to collaborating with the other institutional leaders with their diverse backgrounds and experiences to advance the mission of PLU athletics and the institution as a whole.”

Snyder earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Southeast Missouri State.

In joining PLU, Snyder succeeds interim Director of Athletics Jen Thomas, who led the department during the 2020–2021 academic year. Under Thomas’s leadership, the Lutes navigated a safe and successful return-to-play plan that included COVID-19 testing exceeding NCAA recommendations, with the department’s nearly 450 student-athletes all participating safely in intercollegiate competition this spring.

“I’d like to thank Jen for her leadership over the past year as interim athletic director,” said Belton. “It was an incredibly challenging year, and Jen was able to continue to provide the outstanding student-athlete experience on and off the field that we’ve come to expect at PLU.”

Snyder’s first day on the job will be June 15.