Third finalist promotes himself

Third finalist promotes himself

By Aaron Graff, @Aarongraff_DE

The third SIU athletic director finalist presented a five-point plan at an open forum on Thursday.

Richard Darnell Jr. has served as senior associate athletic director-development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2012. He was previously the executive director of athletic fundraising at Baylor University. He also served as associate athletic director for development/executive director of the Vandal Scholarship Fund at the University of Idaho from 2004 to 2007.

He has a bachelor’s degree in marine transportation from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and a master’s degree in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis.


“I’m honored to have several people nominate me, but I’m even more honored to be here today,” Darnell said. “I truly think this is a very special place. I look forward to having the opportunity to be your athletic director. If I’m given that opportunity, you’ll get everything I’ve got each and every day.”

Darnell said he would like a dynamic team of people focused around five key goals if he were to be hired. 

  1. Athletes will achieve and sustain academic success
  2. Build a financial plan and sustain it for the future
  3. Compete for Missouri Valley Conference championships and postseason appearances in the NCAA.
  4. Develop champions of characters
  5. Enhance student welfare each and every day.

Relating to his second goal, Carbondale’s campus could suffer cuts as high as $44 million if Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal happens.

Darnell said he would analyze the budget and revenues.

“We have opportunities to improve our operation, but we really have opportunities to improve our revenue,” Darnell said. “I think a lot of great things have started, but I definitely see a couple key things that can increase our revenue.”

U of I’s and Baylor’s athletic budgets are both roughly $70 million. He said when he started at Idaho he worked with a $9 million budget, but got it up to $15 million when he left.

Darnell said with an underperforming team, he would make expectations clear and go through a thorough process to make sure goals were being met before making a decision.


He said he would want the best contract that’s right for the university.

“All of us want to make a great living and do the right things,” Darnell said. “Obviously you want to be supported with what you do, but I left corporate America a long time ago and I chose a different path in life.”

Darnell has ties to southern Illinois. He attended middle school and high school in Salem. His wife, mom, grandfather and grandmother all were educated at SIU. 

Leon Costello will be the last athletic director finalist to hold an open forum at 3 p.m. Friday in the Student Center Auditorium.

Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 256.