Top Maverick steps down
Health issues force Miller to resign as CMU athletic director
Health issues made it increasingly difficult for Butch Miller to do his job, and it reached a point where he had to make a difficult decision.
Miller, 39, stepped down as Colorado Mesa University’s athletic director, the school announced Thursday. Miller’s resignation is effective immediately.
“This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make because of how much I love CMU,” Miller told The Daily Sentinel. “This was a dream job to be an A.D.”
Miller did not want to disclose his ailment, but he said he has been seeing a doctor every day recently, and along with his doctors and family decided to seek specialized treatment to get his condition under control.
“I have a great team of doctors and a support staff,” Miller said. “I feel like I can whip it.”
Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster was prepared for Miller’s resignation, keeping updated on Miller’s delicate health situation in recent months along with associate athletic directors Bryan Rooks and Kris Mort.
Miller has been on sick leave since the first of September.
“The way we configured that department was in some ways anticipating Butch might have medical issues,” Foster said. “Having two (associate athletic directors) understanding the department is a tremendous advantage in this situation. They are both talented and energetic.”
Foster spends a couple of hours a day working with the athletic department.
“The administrative staff are all great leaders,” Miller said. “I knew if I left, it would run smoothly. They’ve never complained. That’s what makes Mesa special.”
Former Athletic Director Jamie Hamilton has been involved more this school year than in the past.
Hamilton’s and Foster’s familiarity with the department allowed those two to handle “the high-end administrative details where we need it,” Foster said.
Hamilton will pick up more of the fundraising duties that Miller handled, and Foster said he will manage the budget and strategic decisions with input from Rooks and Mort.
“Butch and I had conversations about this possibility,” Rooks said. “With the addition of Kris Mort, we split up things to ease the burden on everybody.”
Rooks added Hamilton’s work helped with the transition.
“It’s going to be a transition, but it’s a transition, I think, with the people here in place,” Rooks said, “It’s not going to be picking up the pieces. It’s going to be rearranging the pieces to continue down our path.”
Mort was a part-time associate athletic director, but moved into a full-time role after her final season as the softball coach last spring.
“With me coming out of coaching, we already had things split up,” she said. “We’ve tried to pick up the slack wherever we can.”
Foster said Colorado Mesa won’t promote or add anyone as an interim athletic director and won’t likely hire a replacement until after the school year.
“They’d rather stay with this setup,” Foster said of his discussions with Rooks and Mort. “I told them it would take a while to do a search. They said, ‘That’s fine.’ “
Miller took over the athletic department from Hamilton on July 1, 2008, after working as an associate athletic director for five years. In his time as an administrator, Miller has seen the expansion and development of CMU’s state-of-the-art athletic facilities and the addition of 12 intercollegiate varsity sports.
He oversaw the athletic department’s fundraising, corporate sponsorship program and coordinated the golf card fundraising program from 2003 to 2008.
Eight varsity coaches were hired in Miller’s tenure as A.D., including football coach Russ Martin.
“When I came out here, he was such a light within the program because of his positive attitude,” Martin said. “He created excitement. That’s the bottom line. I was looking forward to working with him.
“Yet, I think it’s a wise decision on his part (to resign) because of the health issues. Sometimes you have to change your priorities. We’ll be praying for him. That’s not something you want anybody to go through.”
Miller is a native of Sterling, where he was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball at Sterling High School. He attended Colby (Kan.) Community College, where he was a two-year starter in center field for the baseball team.
Miller transferred to Mesa State College and was a two-year starter and two-time All-RMAC center fielder.
He became an assistant baseball coach the following year, serving in that capacity until 2003 when he became a full-time associate athletic director.
“Any time a coach becomes an administrator or an athletic director, being a coach can only help because they have a reference point for what it’s like being in the trenches as a coach and what they need,” CMU baseball coach Chris Hanks said. “Butch being a coach helped him be a better athletic director.
“I’m sorry to see him go. I know he’s really cared about the programs here and the college in general. I hope he gets all his health issues straightened out.”
Miller, who developed a passion for golf, took over the women’s golf program in 2004 and guided it to numerous school and individual records. He was twice selected RMAC Coach of the Year.
He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Mesa State and his master’s degree from Colorado Christian University.
Miller and his wife, Melissa, have two sons, Skyler, 16, and Peyton, 14.