On Aug. 27, Savannah State University Athletics Director Sterling Steward announced he was resigning from his position to join the University of Alaska Fairbanks as the athletic director, effective Sept. 28, 2018. Tiger’s Roar sat down with Steward after the announcement to discuss his decision to leave.
Question: What was some of your highlights from being here at Savannah State University?
Answer: Wow, there are so many, and in seven years it felt like 70 years because we had so many challenges, trials and tribulations that we managed to overcome.
I would say that my first day was exciting, because it was also the announcement of me becoming the Athletic Director. We had the Hall of Fame Banquet and also the opening of the new stadium. That was the first impression of Savannah State University, a bit intimidating but exciting.
We are supposed to win, but having the structure set so our student-athletes can achieve and maintain was the overall achievement in my tenure here at Savannah State.
Question: Will anyone take over your position?
Answer: Yes, Mr. Opio Mashariki has been appointed as the interim director of athletics, and has served as a number two for most of the time that I have been here. He is a competent and determined administrator who I think will do a wonderful job in the interim time.
Question: So with you leaving next month, do you think coaches will leave as well? How will this affect recruitment in the future?
Answer: The athletic director is the person that’s behind the scenes, and I am a little different than most athletic directors. I made a conscious effort to get to know the students, and the students get to know me.
I don’t think my departing will affect student-athletes and coaches wanting to leave. Coaches that are considering to leave have nothing to do with me. I have also had job offers but I turned them down to fulfill obligations and aspirations here. But no, I do not think it is going to be a mass exodus.
Question: In the future do you think the school will ever have enough funds to return to D1?
Answer: That’s a very great question. I think they can but it needs to be a focus and concentration effort on everyone, not just the athletic director.
We have to change the culture and mindset of everyone. This was something that had to be done but could have been avoided. If everyone had the mindset of giving simply by purchasing a season pass and supporting the athletes we can become D1 again. But everyone has to get involved.