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Asbury announces new VP of intercollegiate athletics

Asbury University welcomed a new vice president of intercollegiate athletics last week, who Asbury President Dr. Sandra Gray said understands the mission and atmosphere surrounding the university’s athletics department.

“This is a significant day in the life of Asbury University,” Gray said. “It is historical for us in bringing in a vice president of intercollegiate athletics. I am thrilled to make this announcement today and I am thrilled that our incoming vice president is Mark Whitworth.”

Mark Whitworth comes to Asbury from his most recent position as the Southeastern Conference (SEC) associate commissioner for men’s basketball, where he worked for 25 years.

Whitworth is also a 1984 Asbury graduate and a former member of the university’s board of trustees.

“It is an honor and privilege to serve Asbury in this way,” Whitworth said. “As a graduate and former trustee, I have a deep love for the university and I have a deep interest in continuing the mission of the university.

“I have a love for athletics and I see the difference it can make in the lives of young people. We are excited about creating the very best intercollegiate experience for students looking for a Christian liberal arts education.”

Asbury reported nearly 100 percent of its 17 intercollegiate athletic teams finished their most-recent semester with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. The university is also annually honored as an NAIA Champions of Character School, meaning it nationally represents the characteristics of respect, integrity, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

“It really allows us to place focus on leadership and preparing students to be good student-athletes,” Gray said. “(It) prepares them for the future and prepares them to lead well and to take their athletic disciplines of teamwork, integrity and handwork into every aspect of life that they do. This is a great training ground for them as if they can do this well in athletics then that transfers to every other walk of life that they will find themselves in.”

Whitworth said one of his main focuses will be to equip coaches at Asbury with the necessary resources to build a strong and vibrant program for the university, offering success in the long run.

“We want this to be a destination,” Whitworth said. “We want this to be a place that athletics is done well, but it is done in the context of a liberal arts education, and here a Christian liberal arts education.

“I am convinced, and I know, that both can exist and thrive. It is not a separate situation. We should have this program vibrantly involved in the heartbeat of campus life. What I want to do is appeal to alumni friends and certainly prospective students that this is a great place to continue an athletic career.”

Gray said an important aspect moving forward at the university is that people see there is a healthy way to view athletics.

“There is a healthy way to view athletics, and there is an unhealthy way,” Gray said. “It really becomes all consuming and single-focused. We really want people to enjoy sports and to value all the wonderful things that it brings, but we want there to be a healthy life balance as well.”