By Jim Nasella
The Jacksonville University athletic department began a new era Wednesday, July 25, when Brad Edwards was named Director of Athletics.
Edwards, 46, a former player in the National Football League, comes to the Dolphins from Newberry College, where he was Athletic Director, and has an array of experience to move the Dolphins’ athletic program forward.
He is the ninth Director of Athletics in school history and replaces Alan Verlander, who resigned earlier this summer to take a position with the city of Jacksonville. Associate Athletic Director Joel Lamp has been working in the interim.
“I am excited, deeply humbled and honored to be joining Jacksonville University,” Edwards said. “I feel like a basketball player coming into the game with a 20-point lead and five seconds to play; I’m in a great position.”
JU President Kerry Romesburg, who introduced Edwards to the media, fans and school personnel, said the announcement ended a thorough, national search.
“It’s a good day for Jacksonville University,” he said. “We had a comprehensive search and a large pool of candidates.”
Romesburg said he was impressed with Edwards on several levels.
“I love his focus, and he’s an energetic guy,” he said. “He has a strong background and brings a lot of what we need.”
Edwards has a background in both higher education and the private sector.
He went to Newberry in 2009, leading the athletics program that consisted of more than 560 student-athletes competing in 16 NCAA Division II sports plus competitive cheerleading.
During the 2010-11 academic year, Edwards took on the added responsibility of overseeing restructuring the Department of Institutional Advancement, consisting of all the College’s external affairs in fundraising and development, alumni affairs, marketing, branding, public relations, communications and media relations. During this time, total giving to the College rose 92 percent over the same period from the previous year.
During his tenure, the school set a South Atlantic Conference record in his first year by placing 135 student-athletes on the SAC Commissioner’s Honor Roll. The athletics department also oversaw and secured through fundraising the design, development and construction of a new state-of-the-art, all-sports strength and conditioning center; a new sports medicine and athletic training room to benefit all student-athletes at Newberry College; a new softball complex; a new soccer complex; and a number of locker room upgrades and other enhancements.
“Our business is about educating young people,” Edwards said. “We are about educating young people and winning with integrity.”
Edwards began working in higher education in 1999, joining the University of South Carolina Athletics Department in the role of Director of Development, and eventually rose to Senior Associate Athletics Director/CFO. Following South Carolina he joined IMI Resort Holdings in Greenville, S.C., where he was responsible for the recruiting, hiring, training and motivating of sales executives and sales managers on IMI’s real estate properties located across North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, with sales in excess of $150,000,000.
Edwards earned his Bachelor of Science in business management from the University of South Carolina and was a standout athlete for the Gamecock football team, earning second team All-American honors after the 1987 season.
He also is a graduate of the Sports Management Institute, having completed the on-site curriculum at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas-Austin. He also has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and is in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Executive Management and Leadership Program. He is also completing a second master’s degree at Michigan State University.
Edwards played free safety in the NFL for nine seasons after being drafted in the second round of the 1988 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He also played with the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons and was a defensive co-captain and runner-up MVP with the Redskins Super Bowl XXVI Championship team.
With the Redskins he played for coach Joe Gibbs, with whom he still communicates.
“He’s my mentor,” Edwards said. “Coach Gibbs showed me how a championship organization is built.”
Edwards, 46, was born in Lumberton, N.C., and grew up in nearby Fayetteville. He is married to the former Marlana Brown. The couple was married in April 2010. He has three sons – Jackson, Thomas and Colton.
Edwards is expected to take over his duties Aug. 10.
Jacksonville University Athletic Directors
1953-67 Dr. Roland L. Rourke
1967-81 Dr. Judson B. Harris Jr.
1981-86 Paul S. Griffin
1986-92 Donald O. Jacobs
1992-2000 Thomas M. Seitz
2000-04 Hugh N. Durham*
2004-05 Dr. John A. Balog**
2005-12 Alan Verlander
2012 Joel Lamp*
2012 Brad Edwards
*Interim A.D. (Durham was interim in 2000-01)
**Acting athletic director