Mars Hill – Area high school athletes thinking about committing to Mars Hill University to play sports might want to know about the new athletic director. Rick Baker, Mars Hill University’s longtime sports information director and assistant athletic director, has been named director of athletics. He has served as interim athletic director for several months and will assume the director’s duties on a permanent basis on June 1.
“I want to thank President Tony Floyd for this great opportunity,” Baker said. “I would also like to thank the search committee for their hard work and our coaching staff for their support. I am very flattered by all the support I received from the Mars Hill campus and community and I am extremely excited to lead the athletic department at Mars Hill University.”
When former athletic director David Riggins announced that he would retire at the end of the fall 2018 semester, the university launched a nationwide search for his successor. Floyd’s charge to the search committee was to find a campus leader who would demonstrate a strong work ethic, integrity, willingness to innovate, strong leadership, and trust.
“In particular,” Floyd said, “I wanted someone who could lead us with hope as we build our program into a competitive program, while simultaneously graduating young men and women. All of these are timeless Mars Hill values.”
Nearly 100 applications came in for the position, presenting the search committee with a diverse pool of candidates. By the end of the process, Baker had risen to the top.
“During the spring semester Rick has served as a member of our leadership team on campus,” said Floyd. “During this time he has shown an incredible work ethic, has rallied our coaches and athletes in morale building moments, and has handled the position in a way which demonstrated to me that he is ready to assume this key role on our campus on a permanent basis.”
Baker has support within the athletics department, as well.
“We are extremely excited to have Rick Baker as our new athletic director here at Mars Hill,” said head football coach Tim Clifton. “He brings a great work ethic and leadership to our program. We are looking forward to the future with him at the helm of the athletic department.”
Baker began his Mars Hill career in 1994, serving as sports information director and assistant baseball coach. He served one year as head baseball coach and in 2003 was named assistant athletic director and director of compliance, while also remaining the sports information director. Baker received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Tennessee State University, where he was a four-year letterman on the baseball team and team captain for the 1990-91 season.
He and his wife, Angel, have two children and live in Mars Hill.