MURRAY — Late Wednesday evening, Murray State University President Dr. Bob Jackson issued an official statement regarding the news earlier that evening that Director of Athletics Kevin Saal was leaving for Wichita State.
“We extend our best wishes to Kevin, his wife Jennifer and their family,” Jackson said before moving on to discuss what comes next with Saal’s departure.
“In the coming days, we will announce an interim athletic director and initiate a search process. Murray State University has a storied, successful, nationally-recognized athletics history and brand. We continue to see significant momentum and an upward trajectory across numerous facets of our institution.”
“This is an exciting time for Murray State University and Racer Athletics, particularly as we embark on our new relationship with the Missouri Valley Conference beginning this summer and the Missouri Valley Football Conference in July 2023.”
Saal came to Murray State in March 2019 after serving 12 years in athletics at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Those years were spent under the direction of longtime UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, who has been seen by many observers as among the best at his trade in the country. Barnhart personally came to Murray to see Saal off the day he was named Racers AD.
Saal helped guide Murray State into a new era as it accepted an invitation to join the Missouri Valley Conference earlier this season. Racers teams officially join The Valley on July 1. Saal also helped lead an extensive five-year strategic plan that includes all facets of Racer athletics, including numerous plans for facilities improvements.
Saal is a native Kansan, having been raised in Manhattan, two hours from Wichita, and home to Kansas State University, where both of his parents were employed. His wife, Jennifer, is also a Kansas native.
On his new position, Saal said, “(Wife) Jennifer and I are eager to return to our home state to engage and partner with Shocker student-athletes, coaches, administration, alumni, supporters and the greater Wichita community. With much work to be done, I look forward to continuing to develop WSU’s championship culture through our strategic vision, core values, a first-class student-athlete experience and, ultimately, competitive excellence. Go Shockers!”