Athletics Director Duane Aagaard Resigns
August 10, 2012
Aagaard Brought Great Success and National Recognition to SEU
LAKELAND--With over a decade of loyal service to Southeastern University, Fire Athletics Director, Duane Aagaard, announced his resignation Friday in a release posted on the university’s athletic website.
During his tenure, Aagaard successfully led the Fire through their transition from a NCCAA D-II member into the NAIA, while finding the Fire a new conference home within The Sun Conference in 2010, and a continued relationship with the NCCAA.
He assumed the athletics director position in May of 2003, and prior to his leadership, Southeastern had never won a national championship in any sport, but in just his first five years on the job SEU managed to win 13 NCCAA National titles and three NCCAA Division II President's Cup awards.
"It is with a heavy heart that I am resigning from my position as the Director of Athletics at Southeastern University," stated Aagaard. "After 11 years in Lakeland, we feel like the next chapter for our life is unfolding in North Carolina. I am grateful for the incredible opportunity Southeastern has provided."
From the first day he assumed the athletic director role, he began building Southeastern into one of the strongest Christian collegiate sports programs in America. From 2003-2010, within the NCCAA D-II, Southeastern had 99 NCCAA All-Americans, achieved 26 South Region titles, 35 NCCAA II National Tournament appearances, 12 NCCAA II National Championships, and one NCCAA D-I National Title.
Recently, Aagaard accepted the NCCAA’s Sports Ministries Award on the behalf of Southeastern. The NCCAA established the Sports Ministries Award for the purpose of recognizing member institutions and/or individuals for significant spiritual outreach through the utilization of athletic ministries.
"Whatever successes I’ve been privilege to receive has been because of the vision of Southeastern University, and its ability to attract that nation’s premier coaches and student-athletes," added Aagaard.
He also launched the Athletic Leadership Institute (ALI), a vehicle for leadership development. The institute was established to train team captains and emerging leaders though retreats, monthly leadership development seminars, weekly leadership meetings with head coaches, and resources which focus on leadership and spiritual development. The athletics leadership institute also established the following five committees to protect the core values of the athletics department: Leadership Development, Spiritual Development, Christian Service, Social Events, and Life Skills.
Born and raised in Central Florida, he is a graduate of Edgewater High School in Orlando. He attended college at Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, graduating from Liberty in 2000 with a degree in sport management. Following graduation, Aagaard worked in the marketing department for RDV Sports, the parent company of the Orlando Magic, while completing a master's degree in sport leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.
In 2001, he joined the Student Life staff at Southeastern as the activities director and assistant athletics director. During this time, Aagaard initiated and launched the Student Body Leadership Council (SBLC) as a vehicle for student leadership, campus involvement, and spiritual growth. While serving in this role, Southeastern was recognized by the Florida Leader magazine as having the state's best orientation week and campus activities.
He also chaired Southeastern's Sports Management program, and enjoyed being in the classroom the past eight years. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership with emphases in Sports Management & Administration, from Concordia University-Chicago.
"I’ll forever be indebted for the opportunity that Southeastern University has provided, never in my wildest dreams could I have scripted the path God has allowed me to journey," said Aagaard. "I’m grateful to Dr. Rutland and Dr. Rakes for giving this young twenty-nothing the keys to their athletic department and a blank canvas to dream. I have always felt the weight of my position, knowing I have someone's dream job. My hope and prayer was that I would be a good steward of this opportunity. I also appreciate the vision of Dr. Ingle & Chris Owen these past two years, we are already looking forward to attending future Homecoming events and celebrating the future success of Fire Athletics."
Aagaard recently accepted a teaching position at Pfeiffer University, in Misenheimer, N.C. He and his wife, Katie, have two daughters, Peyton and Autumn.
What People Are Saying
"Duane Aagaard's tenure at SEU can currently be defined by three successful efforts: Christ first in athletics, leadership determines success, and excellence always. SEU has a massive task in finding someone to continue the excellence and success of the Fire."--Dan Wood, Executive Director of the NCCAA
"I offer my sincere congratulations to Duane on this new opportunity. His personal beliefs, tremendous character and daily example of Christian living will be deeply missed by everyone in The Sun Conference, but we also know that he will be a tremendous success at Pfeiffer University. We send our heartiest best wishes to Duane and Katie as they begin their new adventure in North Carolina!"--Mark Pope, The Sun Conference Commissioner
"I am sad to see Duane leave Southeastern. Duane really put Southeastern Athletics on the map, with his vision and strong work ethic. But, when I look back on my time working under him, I'll always remember his thirst to see student athletes grow in their relationships with Christ."--Evan Gibson, SEU Sports Information Director from 2004-2012
"Duane has been an inspiration to many – to colleagues, staff, faculty, and most importantly student-athletes. I have had the privilege of working with him on various projects and words that come to mind are dedication, mission minded, loyal, strategic, and well-respected. He has poured his life into making student athletes’ experience a Christ-centered approach to sport, never compromising the mission. I have been personally blessed by Duane’s knowledge of leadership – a program we launched this year has his fingerprints all over it. I can’t help to imagine how many hundreds of students have left SEU under Duane’s tenure focused on living a life worthy of the calling."--Matt Hill, Vice-President of Athletics & Student Life, Northwestern College
"I wanted to write and offer my congratulations to you and Katie, on such a wonderful and significant ministry at Southeastern University. You have modeled a strong and spiritual work ethic, which impacted every student that played for Southeastern. So, I am honored to add my voice to the many who feel such gratitude for a decade of leadership to a generation of athletes in search of their destiny.
When I remember Duane in the future, I will always think of your arrival at Southeastern with energy, determination and complete faith that God could do anything through you. You were by a decade the youngest Athletic Director in our conference on the day you arrived in Lakeland. I know that because I checked! As it turned out, the favor of God, your talent and a humble heart allowed you to become the premier Athletic Director in the NCCAA. The National Championships are secondary to the person you became in those years. Congratulations on this new venture and from the mountains of North Carolina and all of us at Winston-Salem First, we give thanks to the Father for allowing Him to use you to influence athletes for good and for God."--Dr. Mike Rakes, Senior Pastor, Winston-Salem First Assembly
“Among my fondest memories of the decade at Southeastern University, the years of athletic success shine brightly. Duane Aagaard brought with him a gift for organization, mature leadership and above all a spirit of joyful enthusiasm. He and a bevy of excellent coaches made Southeastern University the stellar athletic program in the NCCAA.”--Dr. Mark Rutland, former Southeastern University President and current president of Oral Roberts University