Campus Corner

A sport-by-sport look at Mizzou athletics under Mike Alden

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden (left) had his most successful hire in football coach Gary Pinkel.
Missouri athletic director Mike Alden (left) had his most successful hire in football coach Gary Pinkel. The Associated Press

During outgoing athletic director Mike Alden’s 17-year tenure, there have been plenty of highs and a few lows.

Below, The Star chronicled some of the highlights as well as some of the bigger controversies in each sport since Alden took the Tigers athletic department’s reins July 16, 1998.

Alden’s final day as Missouri’s athletic director was Sunday, giving him a tenure of 6,129 days. Former Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades took over Monday.

The list isn’t meant to imply that Alden directly deserves credit for the achievements. That goes to the players and coaches, who put in the time and sweat equity.

It’s meant to provide a snapshot of the significant milestones and top performances during Alden’s tenure.

In each case, Alden helped set the stage, to one degree or another, through his leadership, vision and fundraising acumen, helping transform Missouri’s facilities and revolutionize the way the athletic department operates.

FOOTBALL: Alden’s most successful hire, Gary Pinkel, is 113-66 in 14 seasons at Missouri since taking over in 2001. His .631 win percentage is the best since Dan Devine went 93-37-7 as the Tigers’ coach from 1958-70.

Overall, the MU football program is 128-85, a .601 win percentage, during Alden’s tenure, which includes a 7-4 record in bowl games and five division titles since 2007.

The Tigers, who moved to the SEC in 2012, also are 43-22 in conference play since 2007, including a 14-2 record the last two seasons. MU won a school-record 12 games in 2007 and again in 2013.

Missouri, which hadn’t won a bowl game since 1981 before Alden’s arrival, owns two Cotton Bowl victories in the last eight seasons and romped past Minnesota on Jan. 1 in the Citrus Bowl after winning a second straight SEC East division title and playing in a second consecutive SEC Championship Game.

MU has had 12 first-team All-Americans in football since 1998 and 32 NFL Draft picks, including seven first-round selections. Shane Ray is expected to be a first-round pick on Thursday in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Alden was a driving force behind the $45.5 million Memorial Stadium east-side expansion, which opened in 2014, and the renovations to the press box and west side of the stadium in 2013. FieldTurf was added to Faurot Field in 2012, more than 85 years after its dedication Oct. 2, 1926.

Alden also was responsible for the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex, which is the home for the football program and also includes a weight room, additional training facilities and a dining hall for student-athletes.

There were some devastating moments for the program as well, including freshman linebacker Aaron O’Neal’s death in 2005 during a voluntary workout, the dismissal of Ray-Pec graduate and star running back Derrick Washington amid sexual assault charges and Pinkel’s 2011 arrest for DWI.

Former MU swimmer Sasha Menu Courey also alleged that she was sexually assaulted by one or more football players, allegations that surfaced after she committed suicide in 2011. Her death, after an ESPN “Outside the Lines” investigation shined light on the circumstances, led to sweeping changes with how Missouri handles its Title IX responsibilities and manages the issue of sexual assault on campus.

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Many point to the fact that Alden hired four coaches during his tenure at Missouri as a black mark on his resume. He’d be the first to tell you he wished the program had more stability during his tenure, but two of those coaches — Quin Snyder and Mike Anderson — did take the Tigers to an Elite Eight, which matches the best finish in program history.

Alden also hired Frank Haith, who was 2012 AP national coach of the year, and Kim Anderson.

Overall, Missouri men’s basketball went 345-212, a .619 win percentage, in the last 17 seasons and reached 10 NCAA Tournaments along with three postseason National Invitation Tournaments.

The Tigers also won the 2009 and 2012 Big 12 Tournament titles and had nine NBA Draft picks since 2000, a figure that doesn’t include Thomas Gardner, Phil Pressey or Jabari Brown — all undrafted free agents who reached the NBA.

Alden oversaw the fundraising for and construction of Mizzou Arena, which opened in October 2004. The $75 million facility’s locker room and team facilities are being renovated, another project Alden helped to spearhead.

Lee’s Summit West graduate and star guard Michael Dixon Jr.’s 2012 dismissal amid sexual assault allegations was one of several controversies on Alden’s watch. That also includes the poor handling of Norm Stewart’s retirement, the Ricky Clemons fiasco, the naming rights scandal to Mizzou Arena, Snyder’s dismissal and Gary Link’s role in relaying the news, and the hiring of Frank Haith with an NCAA scandal looming.

Alden’s final hire was Kim Anderson, who replaced Haith last April after he abruptly left for Tulsa.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Led by Cindy Stein and Robin Pingeton, Missouri went 264-256 during Alden’s tenure, including three NCAA tournament berths and seven WNIT appearances.

Stein guided the Tigers to the Sweet Sixteen in 2000-01, which is tied for the best finish in program history, and Pingeton’s squad has reached the postseason three straight seasons.

WRESTLING: The last 17 seasons have seen 38 of Missouri’s 60 wrestling All-Americans and all six national champions, including Drake Houdashelt’s 149-pound title at the 2015 NCAA Wrestling Championships in March.

Additionally, 17 of the 23 wrestlers in Missouri’s 100-win club wrestled when Alden served as athletic director, a span that also includes five of the Tigers’ six top-10 finishes at the NCAA tourney, including third place in 2009 and fourth place in 2015.

During Brian Smith’s tenure, which began a few months before Alden arrived, Missouri is 223-88-3 in dual matches, a .715 win percentage. That includes a 24-0 record last season.

By winning a third straight Mid-American Conference crown in March, wrestling became the first sport since men’s basketball from 1980-83 to claim four straight conference championships. They are the only four conference titles in program history, including the 2012 Big 12 title.

MU won the National Duals Final this season and was ranked No. 1 in the nation entering the national meet.

Brian Smith, who was hired two months before Alden’s arrival, is the only coach the wrestling program had under Alden.

BASEBALL: Missouri baseball has gone 543-427-2 during Alden’s tenure, a .560 win percentage, all under Tim Jamieson, who was in place when Alden was hired.

The Tigers went to seven consecutive NCAA regionals from 2003-2009, including a 2006 super regional appearance. MU also reached the regional round in 2012 and won its first and only Big 12 Tournament championship.

Missouri, in third place in the SEC East division, is poised to return to the postseason in 2015.

Aaron Crow was a first-team All-American in 2008, while Max Scherzer (2005) and Kyle Gibson (2009) earned second-team honors. Alden’s tenure also included 18 first-team All-Big 12 performers.

Taylor Stadium was built shortly after Alden’s arrival and the McArtor Baseball Facility, the team’s indoor training facility, was opened in 2010. A clubhouse and other amenities were added as part of a $4 million project announced in 2013.

SOFTBALL: Missouri softball has gone 669-329, a robust .670 winning percentage, during Alden’s tenure. That includes a 404-132 record under coach Ehren Earleywine, who was hired by Alden in 2006, along with the 2009 Big 12 Tournament championship and 2011 Big 12 regular-season title.

The Tigers have earned an NCAA regional berth 12 times since 1999, including 11 of the last 12 seasons, and are poised to return to the postseason in 2015. MU reached the NCAA super regionals six consecutive seasons from 2008-13 and reached the Women’s College World Series three straight years from 2009-11.

Missouri players have earned 17 All-America honors with Alden serving as athletic director and there are plans in the works to build a new softball stadium east of the Hearnes Center.

MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: During Alden’s tenure, the Tigers never finished better than 25th at the NCAA championships, and that happened his first year in 1999. The best individual finish came from O’Hara graduate Max Storms, who was 56th in 2012 and also qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon.

WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: Ann Marie Brooks was a 2001 All-American and the Tigers won an NCAA regional title in 2002. Missouri finished 12th at the NCAA national meet in 2003 led by All-American Amanda Bales and improved to 11th as a team in 2004.

MEN’S GOLF: Missouri qualified for nationals twice during Alden’s tenure, recording 20th-place finishes in 2005 and 2014. Eight of the Tigers’ 12 NCAA regional appearance have come since 2002, including all five top-10 team finishes in regional tourneys. MU men’s golf team has had three honorable mention All-Americans and a third-team All-American (Emilio Cuartero, 2014) since 2005.

MU partnered with the Club at Old Hawthorne in 2006 and the Walsworth Family Golf Center — which features indoor hitting bays, teams locker rooms and lounges, coaching offices, swing-pattern analysis video equipment and private putting and chipping greens — was constructed there in 2013.

WOMEN’S GOLF: Nine of the program’s 10 regional appearances, including six straight from 2003-08, and the only NCAA national tourney appearance, a 16th-place finish in 2005, have come on Alden’s watch. All three of the Tigers who’ve received honorable mention on All-America teams played at MU since 2001.

GYMNASTICS: Eight of Missouri’s 10 All-America honors in the all-around or on an apparatus have come since 2002. The Tigers appeared in an NCAA regional 13 times in the last 17 seasons, including 2010, when the squad qualified for the NCAA national tourney for the first time since 1981.

The Tiger Performance Complex, which is nestled behind the south end of Memorial Stadium, was built in 2011 and houses the gymnastics team along with the Golden Girls dance team. A video replay system was added in 2013.

WOMEN’S SOCCER: Since 1998, Missouri is 195-140-25 overall and boasts six NCAA Tournament appearances. The Tigers have advanced to second round of the national tourney four times since 2003, including last fall. Each of MU’s four soccer All-Americans have come since 1999.

Under Alden’s watch, a lighting upgrade at Walton Stadium was completed in 2011 and the playing surface was refinished in 2004.

MEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING: Missouri posted its best finish in program history, claiming 11th at the 2015 NCAA national meet. Twenty-seven of the Tigers’ 28 first-team or honorable mention All-America performances have occurred since 2003.

Spearheaded by Alden, MU opened the a new state-of-the-art aquatic center in 2005.

WOMEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING: Missouri has finished a program-best 14th at the NCAA national meet in three of the last four seasons, including last winter. Since 2008, the Tigers have had 33 first-team or honorable mention All-America performances.

The alleged sexual assault of former MU swimmer Sasha Menu Courey’s in 2010 and her eventual suicide in 2011 was a low point for the program and the university as a whole.

WOMEN’S TENNIS: Urska Juric and Katka Sevcikova won the 2003 Big 12 doubles championship and helped Missouri advance to the NCAA regional for the first time. The duo also won two Central Region indoor doubles titles. Alden’s tenure also saw 11 first-team All-Big 12 performances from 1999-2005 and Mary Barry reached the Central Region singles quarterfinals in 2001.

The Green Tennis Center, which opened in 2002, and the Mizzou Tennis Center, which was completed in 2014, were built on Alden’s watch.

MEN’S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD: Missouri has racked up 24 first-team All-American performances since 1998, including Derrick Peterson’s 800-meter title in 1999.

There have been three-time All-Americans during that span — Christian Cantwell in the shot put, Chris Rohr in the weight throw and Nick Adcock in the heptathlon. Peterson, thrower Russ Bell, shot putter Conrad Woolsey, Lars Rise and Hans Uldal in the heptathlon and Markesh Woods in the 60 meters have won two All-America honors.

Additionally, 12 of 17 men’s indoor school records in championship events were recorded since Alden took over.

WOMEN’S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD: Missouri has claimed 18 first-team All-Americans since 1999, including two national champions. The Tigers’ distance medley relay of Ashley Wysong, Ann Marie Brooks, Kerry Hills and Sunny Gilbert finished first in 2001 and Kearsten Peoples won the weight throw in 2015.

Wysong and Peoples are three-time All-Americans, while two others — Ashley Patten in the 800 meters and Jill Rushin in the shot put — have earned two All-American honors.

Plus, nine of 17 school records were broken during Alden’s tenure.

MEN’S OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD: There have been 19 first-team All-Americans since Alden’s tenure began, including Derrick Peterson’s 800-meter championship in 1999.

Decathlete Lars Rise was a four-time All-American from 2008-11, while shot putter Christian Cantwell earned three straight All-American honors from 2001-03. Three other athletes — Peterson and decathletes Hans Uldal and Nick Adcock — earned All-American honors twice.

Eight of 21 school records in championship events have been set during Alden’s tenure.

WOMEN’S OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD: Since Alden took the reins, 15 women earned All-American honors at the NCAA national meet.

That includes Kearsten Peoples, who has won All-America honors three times in the shot put and should have a chance to become a four-time All-American in June. She also was a 2012 All-American in the discus.

Three other athletes have won All-America honors twice, including Ashley Wysong in the 800 and Katrine Haarklau in the pole vault. Ann Marie Brooks also was an All-American in the 1,500 meters and the 5,000.

Plus, 12 of 21 school records have been set on Alden’s watch.

VOLLEYBALL: All 11 of Missouri’s NCAA Tournament appearances, including eight straight from 2000-07 have come since Alden arrived in Columbia. The Tigers also won MU’s first SEC championship, going 18-0 in conference during the 2013 season as part of an undefeated regular season.

Overall, MU is 336-200, a .627 winning percentage, since 1998, with much of that success under the guidance of the Kreklows, Wayne and Susan, who were hired by Alden in 2000.

Missouri has had three first-team All-American volleyball players in the last decade — Lindsey Hunter (2005), Lisa Henning (2013) and Molly Kreklow (2013).

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @todpalmer.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments