University Of Idaho Names First Female Athletic Director

Aug 7, 2019

Terry Gawlik will become University of Idaho's first female athletic director when she starts the job Sept. 1, 2019.
Credit University of Idaho

Terry Gawlik will become University of Idaho’s first female athletic director when she takes over the job Sept. 1. The move comes nearly a year after former Athletic Director Rob Spear was fired for improperly reporting sexual assault allegations.

The Idaho State Board of Education unanimously signed off on the hire Wednesday.

Gawlik says she’s looking forward to moving to Idaho – and sneaking in as much fly fishing as she can.

“From the moment I stepped on the campus, met with the president and the committee, I knew I wanted to be a part of this institution and university,” she said during an introductory press conference in Boise Wednesday.

Gawlik is currently the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Administration & Senior Women's Administrator at University of Wisconsin and has extensive experience overseeing the school’s Title IX compliance program.

That part of her resume is especially notable, given the circumstances of Spear’s firing.

“I really feel like my 25 years at Wisconsin has prepared me for this moment and I look forward to the opportunity to get on campus, get to know the coaches, what they’re about and create a vision and culture for the department,” Gawlik said.

As of 2017, women made up about a quarter of all college athletic directors across NCAA schools.

She will earn at least $200,000 a year through 2024 with several incentives that could raise her salary to as much as $255,000 annually.

Gawlik’s contract includes a clause that prevents the school from having to pay her salary if she’s fired and finds a new, comparable job.

University of Idaho has paid Spear nearly $170,000 since he was fired last August. He’s now the executive director at Idaho Falls Auditorium District.

Living in a smaller town like Moscow won’t be much of an adjustment, she says. She and her husband live outside of Madison, Wisc.

“We have to pass eight dairy farms on the way to our home, which I had to convince my husband it’d be OK with the ice and snow.”

Gawlik also takes over just one season after Vandal athletics made the unprecedented move of dropping from the top tier Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), where it had been marginally successful from 1996 to 2018.

The move made by former university president Chuck Staben riled alumni and boosters, which led to his family’s cars being vandalized and a significant drop in donations.

“If we even want to consider any type of move back to FBS, we need to be competitive in the [Football Championship Subdivision],” Gawlik said.

That would take winning Big Sky Conference championships, building U of I’s brand back up and moving to erase or decrease the athletic department’s budget deficit. As of 2018, that deficit totaled more than $10 million, according to Bloomberg News.

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