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WINCHESTER -- Wayne Edwards had been turning the idea over and over in his mind for the past few weeks -- after two and half years on the job, the Shenandoah University Director of Athletics was considering retirement -- again.
On Tuesday, Edwards made his decision official by announcing his retirement, effective May 31.
Edwards came out of early retirement to lead the Shenandoah University Department of Athletics beginning in January 2010.
"I greatly appreciate the opportunity Shenandoah University has given me to extend my career within intercollegiate athletics," Edwards said in a news release. "When I arrived here, President Tracy Fitzsimmons provided me with a set of measurable goals that she had for the Department of Athletics. I am pleased that, with her strong support, leadership and guidance, we have been successful in accomplishing many of these goals much sooner than either of us anticipated."
Edwards said he plans to return to work as a consultant on a part-time basis, conducting athletics program reviews for universities.
"One of the reasons I decided to retire now is I have two sons who are full-grown and live on the West Coast now," Edwards said. "I've seen my 5-year-old granddaughter twice in her life. I thought if something were to happen, this would not be good."
Under Edwards' leadership, the Hornets secured admission into the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), one of the most respected Division III athletic conferences in the nation. Member schools in the ODAC consist principally of Virginia institutions.
Edwards was also instrumental in developing internal administrative policies to improve efficiency while reducing costs. During his tenure, the department implemented a drug-testing program, which was recommended by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and a merchandise-licensing program. Edwards also brought in several new coaches who fit well into the Shenandoah community while improving the success level of those programs almost immediately.
"The experience and direction that Wayne Edwards has brought to this position is invaluable, and his devotion to the athletics staff and student-athletes will leave a lasting imprint on the department as a whole," Fitzsimmons said. "Wayne Edwards has taken the Department of Athletics to a new level of professionalism, character and notability.
"His commitment to quality shines through the initiatives he put in place during his time at Shenandoah University, and his contributions have added to the strong foundation of athletics at our institution."
During Edwards' tenure, the baseball, softball, women's cross country and women's soccer teams all won conference titles. For softball and women's soccer, those programs advanced to the NCAA playoffs for the first time in school history.
"As President Fitzsimmons advances the campus' plans for the construction of a new athletics arena, I believe it important for the university to have a Director of Athletics who can commit to the long-range fundraising which this project will require," Edwards said. "I will watch with enthusiasm the progress of this project, confident that it will build well on many of the things that have previously been established. Dr. Fitzsimmons is a tremendous president, and I feel fortunate to have served as a member of her administrative staff."
Edwards envisions an indoor facility modeled on Christopher Newport University's building, which would seat approximately 3,000 to 3,500 spectators and would become the venue for men's and women's basketball, volleyball and have a 200-meter indoor track among its features.
"We've got to improve our indoor facilities," Edwards said. "We made a commitment to the ODAC that we would do that. So that's got to happen."
Edwards also hopes to see Shenandoah continue to strengthen its athletics staff, specifically by adding more full-time assistants. Currently, the school has four full-time assistants in football and one in baseball.
"Basketball is a big sport in the ODAC, and lacrosse is as well," Edwards said. "We've got to have full-time assistants in those sports and some of the others as well."
A graduate of Wake Forest University, Edwards earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his doctorate from the George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.
He previously served as director of athletics at Towson University for 11 years and at the University of Massachusetts Lowell for eight years. Previously, he served as associate director of athletics at Yale University and held teaching and administrative positions at East Carolina University and Appalachian State University. Edwards has also served as sports committee chairman for the Camden Yards Sports and Entertainment Commission and the director of the Intercollegiate Athletics Program Group for Mellenbrook Policy Advisors.
A national search for Edwards' successor will begin immediately, with the expectation of a new director of athletics being appointed by August 1.