UW-River Falls Director of Athletics Roger Ternes has announced he is resigning from his position effective Aug. 5.
Ternes informed UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen of his decision Monday morning, May 16. In an interview later that day he said he's valued his six years at UWRF and loves living in River Falls, but recent budget and staff cuts implemented by the state are not sustainable with his vision for the future of UWRF athletics.
“Staff and budget cuts are the biggest obstacles and I see no end in sight; nothing in the foreseeable future that is going to change that,” he said. “Before you get bitter, you had better move on.”
The 2015-17 state budget approved by the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker last year resulted in a $2.87 million base budget cut at UWRF, representing an 11.2 percent reduction in funding. The impact of the cuts has been felt campus-wide, including in the athletic department. Ternes said a large portion of that financial burden has shifted to student-athletes and their families.
“More of the costs to compete in non-scholarship programs is falling on the parents and student-athletes and that's not fair,” he said. “The athletic staff and student-athletes here are first rate, blue collar, hardworking, dedicated; that's the encouraging part. When looking at the big picture with athletics there are a lot of positives, but funding is at a critical level.”
Van Galen thanked Ternes for his service to the university.
“I am grateful for Mr. Ternes’ leadership of Falcon athletics for the past six years,” he said. “Roger has played an especially important role in planning and construction oversight for Smith Stadium at Ramer Field and for the Falcon Center, which will provide outstanding new and upgraded facilities for our intercollegiate athletics teams. I wish him the very best in the next chapter of his life.”
During Ternes' tenure, UWRF finally gained approval from the state in 2013 for the new $63 million Falcon Center, ending two decades of effort by the UWRF campus community and supporters for upgrades to the university's athletic, recreational sports, and health and human performance instructional facilities. The project, expected to be fully completed by fall 2017, will include the new Don Page Arena, named for UWRF's longtime coach and athletic director, along with classrooms, a human performance laboratory, auxiliary gym, offices, locker rooms, training rooms, and other supporting spaces. The project also included new softball and soccer facilities and remodels to the existing Hunt/Knowles complex.
“I'm extremely pleased that the Falcon Center has come to fruition,” he said. “One of my disappointments is not seeing that through to completion. But for the most part the footprint is there. I can't wait to come out to a soccer game this fall and volleyball and basketball games next year.”
Ternes is the sixth WIAC athletic director to resign in the last three years.
See the May 19 print edition of the River Falls Journal for much more on this story.