Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

New athletic director excited to lead, share experiences with student-athletes

Amy Folan poses with her family after she was named CMU's athletic director at an introductory press conference Tuesday in Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Amy Folan's move to become Central Michigan's new athletic director will come with obstacles and challenges, especially during a worldwide pandemic. 

The first challenge, however, getting her children to adapt. 

In moving from Austin, Texas to Mount Pleasant, Folan's son Anelio and daughter Giada will have to navigate the change of surroundings, climate and school. 

"I'm anticipating a smooth transition, but as I know with children, sometimes everything is hold on for your life and a lot of fun," Folan said during her introductory press conference on Sept. 22. "I think this is a great community to bring your family up in the higher-education environment in a community like Mount Pleasant."

Folan is taking the job over from Michael Alford, who announced his departure from CMU on July 15 to become the CEO of Seminole Boosters Inc. at Florida State. Folan is the eighth athletic director at CMU since 1940 and is the first woman to take the job. She joins Western Michigan's Kathy Beauregard as the only two female Division I athletic directors in the state.

Folan will take over officially on Oct. 5 with a four-year contract worth $290,000 annually. Her salary is slightly higher than Alford's initial $275,000 base salary.

President Bob Davies said the national search to find Folan was led by Glenn Sugiyama and DHR Inc., a nationally-recognized sports search agency.  

Davies said 70 people were interested in the position. Three finalists were chosen -- Folan, Michigan State's Alan Haller and Arizona's Derek van der Merwe. 

Davies said CMU was looking for someone who could continue the success of student-athletes both on the field and in the classroom.

Davies also said the athletic department, which cut its men's indoor and outdoor track and field program earlier this year, needed a leader to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While at CMU, Davies anticipates Folan will increase revenue generation, ticket sales and overall enthusiasm in the Mount Pleasant area and across the state.

During the interview process, Folan said Davies showed "rigor, relevance and excellence." She said she is going to use that same mindset when dealing with issues and dilemmas within the department. 

Now, Folan is focused on familiarizing herself with CMU and Mount Pleasant, she said.

"My first goal is to on-board these first 90 days, I have to assimilate myself with the culture; it's obviously a great one. That's why I'm here," Folan said. "There are some things on the horizon that we may have to tackle sooner rather than later, but I will work with president Davies and the interim Rachel Blunt to make sure we cover everything we need to until I can be fully on-boarded."

Before CMU, Folan was the executive senior associate athletics director at Texas where she oversaw the Longhorn Foundation, the university's fundraising arm. 

"The University of Texas has a high bar when it comes to fundraising and fan engagement and membership in the booster clubs," Davies said. "She not only surpassed that bar, she raised that bar significantly with six years of running at the highest fundraising for the university."

Before her professional career started at Texas, Folan was a student-athlete herself. She studied communication sciences at Connecticut and originally wanted to become a sports broadcaster. 

She played soccer for the Huskies and said she wants to provide an experience similar to what she had as a student-athlete to CMU's student-athletes. 

"That was part of my story, being a student-athlete was a transformative experience for me," Folan said. "The small things we do everyday, just checking in on someone, can have a profound effect, because it's had that on my life."