I received the following announcement from the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) earlier today. I have a lot of thoughts to share regarding this latest action by the governing body of college tennis, but I’m going to keep them to myself . . . for now. My youngest child is graduating from high school next week, and I want to stay focused on the happy events in front of us. That said, please feel free to discuss your thoughts in the Comments section, and I will chime in as warranted. If you’d like to read my previous articles involving Dr. Russell, click here and here.
Dr. Timothy Russell has been appointed by the ITA Board of Directors as the new CEO of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, with his role set to begin on July 1, 2015. A special appointed ITA Search Committee, chaired by David Benjamin, worked closely with a highly respected executive search firm, GSI Executive Search, to successfully complete an extensive selection process.
“The future of varsity tennis as a significant and forward-thinking college sport is bright, as is that of the ITA as an independent leader in the world of higher education and beyond. I am very excited to start working with the coaches and staff on behalf of the association and our student-athletes.”
“Tim Russell’s passion, intellect, communication skills and his extensive experience with the ITA and the USTA make him the right choice to lead college tennis,” said Peter Smith, coach of the five-time NCAA Champion men’s tennis team at the University of Southern California. “It was obvious, not only to me, but to everyone involved in the interview process that Tim was the best choice for CEO. I am very excited to have him lead us through these challenging and changing times of the NCAA and college tennis in general.”
Dr. Russell has spent three decades as a distinguished educator at two major Division I schools (presently a Professor at Arizona State University and formerly at The Ohio State University) as well as at the University of Rochester, a leading Division III institution.
Steven Tepper, Dean of the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, and long-time tennis player, remarked, “While ASU is losing an extraordinary member of our faculty, the ITA and college tennis are gaining an incredibly creative person who will advance your cause, build your community and imaginatively address the most pressing challenges facing tennis and other Olympic sports today.”
In addition to his academic achievements, Russell has also been a highly successful entrepreneur, with a leadership role in the development of two renowned American non-profit institutions. “These are unprecedented times for all of college sports. Moving forward will require leaders to think creatively and bring individuals together around a common goal. Tim Russell has excelled in both these areas throughout his career – inside and outside of the tennis world,” said Amy Perko, former member of the USTA’s Presidential Task Force on Tennis and Higher Education.
Sheila McInerney, head women’s tennis coach at Arizona State University and co-chair of the ITA Division I Operating Committee, said, “Tim Russell is an excellent choice as CEO of the ITA. Needless to say, filling David Benjamin’s shoes will be a tall order, but I believe Tim will do a fantastic job in moving the ITA forward. Tim comes in with a very good knowledge of the ITA and collegiate tennis, and he has a strong vision of what needs to be done to grow our product. Tim has a work ethic and passion for tennis, specifically collegiate tennis, second to none. I know he is determined to make sure that collegiate tennis continues to flourish under his leadership. I am excited to have Tim Russell in this leadership role for the ITA.”
Russell is also well known in the tennis world. He served as the USTA Collegiate Varsity Chair from 2007-2010, where he helped senior staff put together a strategic plan for the partnership of the USTA with the ITA and varsity collegiate tennis. From 2011-2012, Russell guided the USTA through major changes in the junior competitive tournament structure as USTA Junior Competition Chair, working to create a model that would lead to more and better American juniors for college coaches to recruit. He also served as a researcher and moderator for last year’s ITA Format Steering Committee.
“Tim knows and understands the ITA and the key issues facing college tennis, and will hit the ground running in providing a seamless transition,” retiring ITA Executive Director David A Benjamin said. “His work with boards of directors, strategic planning, fundraising and expertise in unifying large numbers of people around big causes will all be super assets for the ITA and college tennis. Our sport and coaches association will be in excellent hands moving forward over the years ahead.”
Russell has previously been inducted into the USTA Southwest Hall of Fame (November 2011) and the USTA Central Arizona Hall of Fame (April 2009), and will be inducted into the ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame later this month.
“I am humbled by this opportunity, and feel especially honored to succeed David Benjamin who has served the ITA and college tennis tirelessly throughout his career,” Russell said.