University of Northern Iowa athletic director Rick Hartzell is leaving his alma mater after nearly 9 years. The school announced Hartzell’s resignation this morning, effective at the end of the month. Hartzell says some issues he’s been unable to resolve with school administrators led to his decision to resign.
Hartzell says he asked for the return of athletic tickets and facilities back to the athletic director, a contract extension without a salary increase, and a change so he would report to the president. Hartzell says he was told no, compromised, was told no again, compromised and was told no, and then decided it was in his "best interest to do something else."
Hartzell says he tried to reach a compromise on the unsolved issues, and when they couldn’t be worked out, he decided to step down. Hartzell says he got to the point where he felt the only thing that was important was in the reporting role and he decided that it was the best to resign and take a new direction.
Hartzell left open the possibility of staying on as U-N-I’s athletic director if the issues can be resolved in the next two weeks, but he doesn’t see that happening. Hartzell says UNI is the place he loves and cares about, so if there is a way to solve the problem, he would love to stay.
Two years ago, school administrators took control of tickets and facilities management away from the UNI athletic department, a decision Hartzell has never agreed with. He says, since then, the athletic department hasn’t run as efficiently as it could. He says it’s hard when people think you’re responsible for tickets and facilities and you’re not. He says it’s hard to manage that way. Hartzell says things don’t operate that way anywhere else and he says "it’s been fraught with problems here, at least from the side of athletics."
Hartzell was hired in August of 1999 to replace former athletic director Chris Ritrievi. A UNI alum, Hartzell says the decision to resign was difficult. He says it was hard, but it has been in his mind for three years, and he says he’s dealt with it every day and got to the point where Hartzell said he couldn’t take it anymore.
Hartzell wants to stay in the Cedar Valley and support the Panthers, but currently has no future plans.
School administrators plan to name an interim athletic director by February 1st, and begin a national search for Hartzell’s replace as soon as possible.