Heartland taps La Verne athletics director as leader
Chris Ragsdale will bring more than 20 years of experience as an athletics director and a familiarity with the Division III governance structure to his new role beginning July 1 as commissioner of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Ragsdale has been director of athletics at La Verne in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference since 2003. He currently is a member of the Division III Membership Committee.
He will succeed Tom Bohlsen, who became the conference’s first commissioner in 1998.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to step into a leadership role with the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference,” Ragsdale said. “The HCAC has nine outstanding institutions with tremendous athletics traditions that give high-quality opportunities to their student-athletes.”
The move marks a return to the Midwest for Ragsdale, who served as athletics director at Nazareth (Michigan) from 1986 to 1991, then directed the athletics program at Elmhurst in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin for 12 years before his hiring at La Verne.
At La Verne, Ragsdale played an instrumental role in renovation of the Sports Science & Athletics Pavilion and in developing plans for the new West Campus Athletic Complex. He also hired eight head coaches during his tenure at the school, including coaches in men’s basketball, softball and football. La Verne teams have captured 12 SLIAC team titles under his watch.
“Chris Ragsdale brought his extensive experience and his commitment to Division III values to the University of La Verne at an important time,” said school President Stephen Morgan. At the time of Ragsdale’s selection, the school recently had won a Division III title in women’s volleyball (2001) and earlier won a baseball championship (1995), and wished to remain nationally visible.
Soon after his arrival, the school hosted the 2003 Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship and since has hosted three Division III volleyball regionals.
“Many positive things have been accomplished or put in place for further development, and I know that the athletics staff will be eager to work with the next director to ensure the overall program continues to move forward,” Ragsdale said.
Ragsdale also has served on NCAA sports committees during his career, most recently as a member of the Division III Men’s Golf Committee.
The HCAC was formed in 1987 as the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference. Four schools in the league moved from the NAIA to NCAA membership in 1991, joining three other league members that already belonged to the NCAA and establishing the ICAC as an active Division III member conference.
Changes in the league’s roster resulted in the acceptance of three schools in Ohio as members in 1997, and a change in the conference’s name and Bohlsen’s appointment as commissioner a year later. The HCAC, which sponsors championships in 16 sports, now also has a member in Kentucky.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association