CLAREMORE, Okla. – Rogers State University has named University of Arkansas at Monticello’s Chris Ratcliff as its new director of athletics. Ratcliff has served in leadership roles for the UAM athletics program for nearly a decade, including as UAM’s athletics director since 2009.
RSU President Dr. Larry Rice announced the hire on Friday, saying Ratcliff’s experience leading an NCAA Division II school while emphasizing academic success will be an excellent fit for Rogers State as it completes its first year as a Division II member. Ratcliff will begin his duties at RSU on Dec. 19.
“Chris has been a proven winner at each stop in his career, including the last 10 years at the helm of the University of Arkansas at Monticello,” said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. “After visiting with him during the interview process, we believe that Chris will be an excellent leader to move us into a new era of Hillcat athletics. Further, his emphasis on student success and involvement in the community aligns with our vision for student-athletes who compete for championships while being excellent students and citizens.”
At UAM, Ratcliff helped change the culture of UAM Athletics through improvements in all facets of the department, including competitiveness on the field, academic achievement by student-athletes, service in the community and fundraising. Among the accomplishments during his tenure are increasing the overall GPA for student-athletes, creating six new scholarship endowments to assist student-athletes and coaches, and fostering an environment where student-athletes completed an average of 2,600 hours of community service per year.
Ratcliff said he was humbled and honored at the opportunity join the Hillcat family.
“From afar, I have always admired Rogers State University. Rogers State has accomplished so much, in such a short period of time. This is definitely an athletic department on the rise,” he said. “RSU has outstanding coaches, administration and student-athletes. The future is bright, and together we will work to help our student-athletes achieve on the highest levels in the classroom, in competition and in the community. I would like to thank President Rice and (RSU Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance) Mr. Tom Volturo for their trust and honesty throughout this process. I am very excited and ready to get to work. Go Hillcats!”
During his tenure, UAM athletics has seen an increase in annual giving as well as corporate sales, including a record amount of giving and membership in the UAM Sports Association. UAM fields 11 athletic teams as a member of the Great American Conference.
Ratcliff has overseen two major capital campaigns over the last four years, including major improvements to the UAM Baseball and Softball facilities, additional facilities for Men’s and Women’s Golf, and improvements to its fieldhouse gymnasium.
Since 2011, Ratcliff has served on the Board of Directors for the D2 Athletic Directors Association (ADA). In 2016, he was voted in as Third Vice President. He is currently on the D2 ADA NCAA Regulatory Committee and the national chairman of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Committee. Chris also served for two seasons on the Men’s Basketball Regional Advisory Committee.
Ratcliff previously served two years as UAM’s Assistant Director of Athletics for Compliance and has remained active in the compliance world by attending numerous regional rules seminars.
A native of Houston, Ratcliff joined UAM in 2006 as the school’s sixth head women’s basketball coach. He more than doubled his win total from his first season to his second. In his third year at the helm of the Blossoms (2008-09), Ratcliff and his team captured the program’s first 20-win season of the decade (21-9), the program’s first-ever appearance in the finals of the Gulf South Conference Championship Tournament, and the program’s second appearance in the NCAA South Regional.
In addition to taking the team to its first ever GSC Championship game, Ratcliff’s 2007-08 squad was the first UAM team to earn a spot in the GSC Semi-Finals game after knocking off then No. 7 ranked West Georgia in the quarterfinals.
Prior to his hire at UAM, Ratcliff served as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Henderson State University, where he helped lead the Lady Reddies to numerous postseason appearances, including the 2006 NCAA Division II Elite Eight, the 2005 Sweet 16, and the 2004 Final Four, while winning the 2004 GSC Championship, the 2006 GSC-West Championship and posting three consecutive 20-win seasons. A notable recruiter, he helped assemble talent that included two D2 All-Americans, one Academic All-American and six All-GSC selections.
Prior to his time at HSU, Ratcliff served in the same role at San Jacinto Junior College in Houston, Texas from 1999-2003. While there, he aided the Lady Gators to the NJCAA Region XIV Tournament for the first time ever in 2002, followed by another appearance the next season.
Ratcliff earned a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Leisure from Henderson State in 2005, followed by a Master of Science in Sports Administration in 2006, also from HSU. His wife Andrea, who earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, played basketball at the University of North Alabama and currently is a public school teacher in Monticello. The couple has two children, Ella, 8, and Rivers, 4.