Joan McDermott speaks at a Title IX conference on Nov. 11, 2017, in the Fromm Auditorium in San Francisco, Calif. during USF Dons Athletics Title IX Event. (Chris M. Leung for USF Dons Athletics)

University of San Francisco promotes Joan McDermott to athletic director

The University of San Francisco has found its next athletic director.

The Dons have decided to promote Joan McDermott, the deputy athletic director and senior women’s administrator, to replace the departing Scott Sidwell, the Examiner has learned.

McDermott becomes one of 37 current female athletic director in Division I (excluding interim ADs) who handle a school’s entire athletic department (Christine Plonsky at Texas is the women’s athletic director, while Chris Del Conte handles the men). She would be the second female to take the reins of the San Francisco athletic department, after Debbie Gore-Mann, who preceded Sidwell, and has experience at all levels of an athletic department, from player to coach to administrator.

McDermott earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and physical education from San Francisco while earning four letters playing varsity volleyball, before earning a master’s degree in educational administration from Stanford. She took the job as the Dons’ Executive Senior Associate AD for Internal Operations in the fall of 2016.

“This day marks the happiest day in my professional career,” McDermott said in a statement released by the University. “I am so honored to be selected as your next Director of Athletics at the University of San Francisco. I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Board of Trustees, Fr. Paul Fitzgerald, Charlie Cross and Scott Sidwell for bringing me back to USF in 2016, and I look forward to leading the Dons to new heights for many years.”

Before returning to her alma mater, McDermott served as the athletic director of Division II Cal State East Bay (from 2015 to 2016), and before that, spent 20 years at Metro State in Denver, with her final 17 there spent as the athletic director.

Before taking the helm at Metro State, McDermott coached the school’s volleyball team for three years, leading the team to the NCAA tournament the last two. She also served as head women’s volleyball coach St. Mary’s from 1982 to 1987, guiding the Gaels to four top-20 rankings. Three times under McDermott, St. Mary’s qualified for the NAIA Nationals, winning a national title in 1985. She boasted a career winning percentage of .675 (393-190).

During her tenure as Metro State AD, the intercollegiate athletic program won 71 Rocky Mountain Conference Championships, and her teams made 114 NCAA postseason appearances in 14 sports (San Francisco has 16). With her as athletic director, Metro State claimed two NCAA National Championships each for the men’s basketball and women’s soccer teams, two NCAA Division II individual champions in men’s track, had 196 athletes named All-Americans and 16 named Academic All-Americans.

Throughout her career, McDermott has been involved in leadership and service to professional organizations and the NCAA, according to her bio on the University of San Francisco’s website. In the fall of 2014, she was named president of NACWAA (National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators). She also served on the Denver Sports Commission board of directors and the NCAA Division II softball committee.

In June of 2014, McDermott was named the Under Armour NCAA Division II Athletics Director of the Year by NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) for the second time in her career.

Academically, she increased the graduation rate to over twice that of the general student body. Metro State’s Academic Success Rate (ASR) jumped from 39 percent (cohort 2001) to 64 percent (2008 cohort). She also secured the first-ever athletic endowed scholarships (four since 2012), and raised over $4.5 million for new outdoor athletic facilities.

“Joan in my view is the consummate athletic director,” said Dr. Stephen Jordan, the former president of MSU Denver, president of DII President’s Council. “She’s been a successful coach,  and she knows how to hire and mentor successful coaches who have gone on to have successful careers. She understands her values and I think most importantly she understands at the end of the day it is about the student-athlete experience. That the student-athlete should have the opportunity to compete at the highest levels for national championships and conference championships. I wish USF the very best, I am so excited for Joan. This is her dream job, she pursued a path to this and I am so happy that she now has the opportunity.”

In the 2013-14 school year, McDermott oversaw a complete facility upgrade for the Auraria Event Center, home to the Metro State basketball and volleyball teams. The center received a new floor, portable baskets and a Jumbotron that was donated from the Pepsi Center. Ground also broke on the $16 million Regency Athletic Complex at Metro State, the new home to Roadrunners tennis, soccer, softball and baseball.

During her tenure at CSUEB, McDermott was responsible for a budget overhaul that saw the department’s budget balance for the first time. Four teams advanced to the department’s first ever NCAA Regional appearances, and the department raised its overall GPA to an all-time high of 3.031.

McDermott and her husband, Dan, reside in Alameda, and they have six children: Katie (37), Scott (33), John (28), Tim (25), Claire (22), and Jackson (17), as well as two grandchildren.

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