RMAC commissioner leaving to be Chadron State AD

The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference will have a new face fronting the conference.

After 12 years as the RMAC commissioner, J.R. Smith has resigned. He accepted the athletic director position at RMAC member Chadron State (Neb.) College.

“It has been an honor to serve as the commissioner of the RMAC for the past 12 years,” Smith said in a news release. “I look forward to the excitement and challenges of returning to a campus.”

Smith was selected the RMAC Commissioner in 2001.

During his tenure, he moved the RMAC basketball tournament to the World Arena in Colorado Springs (2003-05) then to the Colorado State Fair Events Center in Pueblo (2006-12). The tournament semifinals and finals are now held at the home of the highest remaining seed.

Smith negotiated live television coverage of the RMAC basketball championship games. In 2004, Altitude Sports and Entertainment agreed to air a monthly show on the conference: The RMAC Showcase. That began in 2004.

Smith introduced the RMAC Hall of Fame, which inducted its first members in July 2002.

“We’ll miss him,” Colorado Mesa President Tim Foster said of Smith. “He had a lot of institutional knowledge. Fortunately, with him staying in the RMAC, we’ll have an opportunity to pick his brain a little.”

Smith served on numerous committees, including the NCAA Championships Committee, NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball North Central Regional Advisory Committee, several RMAC committees and was the chair of an NCAA Division II Baseball West Regional Advisory Committee when the RMAC was in the West Region.

“His leadership has left the RMAC in a great place, and we are positioned for continued success moving forward,” Metro State University President Stephen Jordan said in a news release.

Jordan is the chairman of the RMAC Presidents Council, which reviews the commissioner’s work.

Foster said the biggest challenge the RMAC faces as it starts to look for a replacement is travel issues and expenses.

For example, it is 1,130 miles between Black Hills State in Spearfish, S.D., and Western New Mexico in Silver City, N.M.

Western New Mexico has to travel more than 600 miles to all but four schools in the RMAC.

Colorado Mesa has to travel more than 500 miles one way to Black Hills State, Chadron State and Western New Mexico.

“We are so spread out,” Foster said. “We spend a disproportionate amount on travel. It’s hard on the student-athletes.

“For us, it would be nice to get some folks west of us in the conference. We could use some schools with sports like swimming in the conference. Two want to join (as affiliated members).”

There were seven schools, including affiliated members, with women’s swimming and six with men’s swimming, but two of those programs, Incarnate Word (Texas) and Grand Canyon (Ariz.) universities, are moving up to Division I.

The RMAC has 14 members. It sponsors 11 men’s sports and 10 women’s sports.

Smith will remain at the conference office through June. A search for the fifth RMAC Commissioner will begin in the near future.

Smith begins his duties at Chadron State on July 1. He takes over for Brad Smith (no relation), who announced his retirement in April.

Prior to becoming RMAC commissioner, Smith served as director of athletics at Fort Lewis College for five years (1996-2001) and as director of athletic development and assistant director of athletics at Metro State College of Denver for 11 years (1985-96).


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