By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Montana State University-Northern athletic director Ted Spatkowski is looking for a hobby. Maybe it will be golf, perhaps bowling, he isn't sure.
For the first time in 12 years, Spatkowski will actually have time for a hobby, after announcing his resignation in a letter to Chancellor Alex Capdeville on Monday. The resignation will become effective on May 10.
"This is something I started considering probably two or three years ago when we started adding more sports," Spatkowski said. "It increased the amount of time I had to spend with the program and I didn't reduce the amount of time I spent teach or spent on committees. It just got to be too much."
Spatkowski, a tenured professor, will focus solely on teaching next year which is what he originally came to MSU-Northern for.
"Teaching is what I really enjoy, it's my passion," he said. "When (former chancellor) Bill Daehling first asked me to do this I told him no. He kept asking me and finally told me I was going to do it. It was only supposed to be for a couple of years. He just kept asking for me to keep doing it after every two years."
During his tenure as the athletic director, Spatkowski has witnessed both ends of the spectrum in Lights/Skylights athletics. He was there for all six of Northern's NAIA national championships, but he was also there through last year's coaching debacle in both the men's and women's basketball programs.
With both basketball programs headed in a positive direction under new coaches Mike Erickson (women) and Shawn Huse (men), Spatkowski felt that the current stability in the department as a whole, allowed him the perfect timing to walk away.
"Everyone is coming back and the department is stable," Spatkowski said. "The department is in good hands. If I was going to do it, now was the best time."
According to Capdeville, the search for a replacement for Spatkowski will begin immediately.
"We'll be moving on it as soon as I meet with my financial people and decide what we can offer in terms of a salary," Capdeville said. "Ted was good to work with and was always very supportive of the administration in things we tried to accomplish. I think he kind of got burned out with everything."
As for accomplishments during his time as athletic director, Spatkowski speaks of the national championships the fondly and points to the fact that Northern has six national titles while the seven other schools in the Frontier Conference combined for just two. But the overall environment of the athletic department is what he feels is his greatest achievement.
"When I took over this department it was somewhat disorganized and people didn't get along well," Spatkowski said. "To see a department where everyone gets along with each other, trusts each other, respectful of each other and supportive of each other is probably the best accomplishment. I can't take credit for the national championships, but I think I can take a little credit in pulling the department together and making it one unit."
Capdeville wouldn't speculate whether Northern would hire from within to fill the position, or open the position to outside applicants.
"There's always the option to hire in house," Capdeville said. "We don't have tons of money when it comes to hiring someone."
Spatkowski isn't opposed to hiring someone from Northern as his replacement, however he does feel that the person should be independent of the athletic department.
"My personal feeling, and it's not necessarily the same as the institution's, is that a coach shouldn't be athletic director," Spatkowski said. "Even if that person isn't biased to their own program, the perception that they want to take care of their program first is there."
Another reason that Spatkowski believes a coach shouldn't be athletic director is the responsibility of managing the athletic facilities at Northern. After the facilities manager/sports information director position was removed a few years ago, those responsibilities fall directly to the athletic director.
"We schedule a lot of events at this facility when our teams are on the road," he said. "Who would take care of it then? There is no way a person is going to do this job especially if they are expected to coach or teach as well. There is too much to do with this job now. It will burn them out fast."