A Wichita State University alumnus and former student-athlete, Dr. Eric L. Sexton, enters his seventh full season as Director of Athletics at WSU after being named to the position April 23, 2008.
He took over the reigns of a growing and successful program, and has taken it to even new heights, overseeing arguably the greatest two years in Shocker history.
Wichita State competed in nine NCAA Tournament events and won eight Missouri Valley Conference titles, including volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, softball, women’s tennis, outdoor track and field, men’s golf and women’s golf.
The men’s basketball team continued on a tear, backing up its 2013 Final Four appearance by winning 35-straight games, setting an NCAA record along the way before bowing out to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
In addition, the women’s basketball team competed in the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year, and also won the MVC regular-season and tournament titles under Jody Adams.
The two-year assault on the WSU and MVC record books by the Shockers began in 2012-13. A first for Shocker Athletics in a year of firsts, 12-of-15 sports were represented in NCAA competition. Wichita State’s volleyball team reached the Sweet 16 for the first time, the women’s basketball team won its first MVC title and played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in history, and the men’s basketball team reached the Final Four for only the second time in history and the first time in 48 years.
The Shockers also qualified for NCAA competition in men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, men’s golf and baseball, and also won MVC titles in women’s indoor track and field, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, men’s golf and baseball.
In fact, since Sexton took over, Wichita State has won 32 MVC titles, a product of his success in retaining successful coaches and the finest compilation of facilities in the Valley and in the region in the sports it sponsors.
During the past five years, the institutional Academic Progress Rate (APR), which measures an institution’s eligibility and retention rate, has increased to an overall high of 977. Eight WSU teams have been recognized for perfect 1,000 APR multi-year rates during Sexton’s tenure.
In addition, All WSU athletic teams have maintained levels above the NCAA cut line of 930 and have faced no APR penalties.
The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for WSU Athletics is currently 83 percent, just one percent behind the GSR for all institutions across the country. The GSR measures the graduation success rate for student-athletes receiving athletic aid in their first year of enrollment and who graduated within a six-year time period.
Overall, the grade point average for all WSU athletic teams is consistently above a 3.05 and reached a high of 3.2 during the Fall 2010 semester.
Sexton has been active in other areas, as well, choosing to build upon the success of Roundhouse Renaissance. Wichita State’s $25 million reconstruction of Charles Koch Arena was completed in 2003 and enhances the student-athlete and fan experience.
Most recently, he added a new first-class HD scoreboard and sound system in Charles Koch Arena, new LED mezzanine signage to increase revenue streams, and a renovated men’s and women’s basketball locker rooms to keep the competitive recruiting edge.
Early in Sexton’s tenure, the Shocker Athletic Department completed fundraising and construction of the Bombardier Learjet Baseball Practice Facility and the Wink Hartman Golf Practice Facility as a testimony to keeping that edge in all Shocker sports programs.
In addition, the largest amount ever raised for WSU’s Shocker Athletic Scholarship Organization was achieved in 2012-13 at $4.2 million.
Sexton, a 1987 WSU graduate and former member of the golf team, moved to the Athletic Department from his position of Executive Director for Government Relations and Board of Trustees at WSU. In that role, he was responsible for building relationships with elected and appointed officials at the local, state, and federal levels to advance the university’s finances and to provide for the academic and research needs of the Wichita region.
Under his direction, the university in 2008 achieved the distinction of being 15th in the country in directed federal appropriations for important programs at the university.
His Master of Public Administration (1992) and Bachelor of Business Administration (1987) degrees are both from WSU. From 1984 to 1987, he was also a two-time All-Missouri Valley Conference honoree on the WSU golf team, and graduated with honors. He also earned a PhD in Political Science at the University of Kansas in 2002. He is the son of Shocker football legend Linwood, and the late Delores Sexton, of rural Halstead.
Sexton is heavily involved in the community, including board membership with various non-profit service organizations in the Wichita area during the past 19 years. In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Sexton to the Presidential Commission for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Currently, he serves on the NCAA Men’s Golf Committee, and will oversaw the 2013 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kansas.
He also serves on the boards of the Kansas Golf Foundation and Go Wichita. In addition, from 1998-03, he served on WSU’s SASO Board of Directors.
Sexton’s honors include the Wichita Business Journal 40 under 40 award (2000), the National Security Forum of the U.S. Department of Defense (1999), Leadership Wichita (1995), and the University of Kansas Black Faculty and Staff Council President’s Scholar.
Sexton, who is the 17th Director of Athletics since 1939, is an avid competitor in amateur golf at the regional and national levels.
He and his wife, Kathy, reside in Derby.