After a career that spanned more than 30 years, Northern Michigan University athletic director (AD) Ken Godfrey has resigned his position to focus on his health.
Godfrey was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in Fall 2010, and has been on medical leave since that time. He had served as AD since June 2002 and prior to that worked in many different sectors of the athletic and recreational departments.
“My hope is to return to NMU when I am once again healthy, but not as AD,” Godfrey, who was unable to be reached for an interview, said in a press release. “It is in the best interest of the department and the university at this time to get a permanent athletic director in place who can continue to move Wildcat athletics forward.”
Godfrey, who came to Northern in 1979, also served as a special assistant to the president, according to the press release.
“He has had many different roles through the university,” Godfrey’s co-worker Steve Reed said. Reed is also the associate director of operations in the recreation department. “It’s a little bit more than an athletic director position that you would find at some other universities.
“He is an individual that many of us have worked with for many years, and I think he has always had a team approach regarding staff as much as he did with our sports teams.”
Northern is now in the process of finding a new AD, a decision that will be made at the end of the semester in May. The first committee meeting regarding the decision will be held later this week.
“I think his commitment to excellence is the one thing that would stand out,” Reed said. “It’s just kind of the tone that he sets for all of us.
“That’s what he tried to instill in each and every person in the department, whether it was a staff person, a student athlete, a student employee, or a volunteer on a project. I think that excellence is the one word that would be the common denominator of what we are looking for.”
Reed added that in 2006, when NMU first began the Excellence in Service award for its employees, Godfrey was chosen to take the honor.
“That shows a respect that the people in the university have for him,” he said.
In general, Reed commended the way that Godfrey has dedicated his life and career to the improvement of NMU athletics and students.
“Northern has always been a very important part of his life,” he said. “He’s worked here as a career, his kids have gone to school here and graduated from here.
“When you think back over that time span, I’m sure he can tell you the number of students – even from 30 years ago – that have still contacted him to tell him some anecdote or something that was meaningful in their lives that they took from Northern and from working in the [athletic] buildings or from participating in the programs. I think that is number one.”
The AD position is closed to applicants on Feb. 15, and NMU hopes to make a final decision on the position by May 1, with a start date soon after.