Greenspan to leave position as Rice's athletic director
Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan announced today that he will officially leave his position at Rice University on June 30. According to the Houston Chronicle, Greenspan had one year remaining in his contract with Rice but plans to leave Rice to pursue other opportunities.
During a press conference with local television stations, Greenspan stated that he is considering multiple possibilities for his future plans.
"I've got three or four things that have been presented to me and I want to exhale, sit back and consider [my options]," Greenspan said. "[I want to decide] on my own timeline."
Greenspan, who came to Rice in 2010, said he has enjoyed his time at Rice and feels his time was well spent.
"My experience at Rice has been both rewarding and challenging, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve this exceptional institution," Greenspan said. "I am proud of my contributions to the competitive and academic success of our student-athletes and coaches, and to have enhanced a culture of honesty, integrity and transparency."
Greenspan said his decision to leave incorporated his discussion with Rice's administration.
"My decision to leave Rice was a decision based upon discussion and communication I've had with [President David Leebron] about a number of things, some very personal, which I don't think I want to elaborate on," Greenspan said.
Leebron wished Greenspan well upon the announcement of his departure.
"I want to thank Rick for his committed service to Rice during these past three years and wish him well in all future endeavors," Leebron said.
Earlier this year, Greenspan faced controversy regarding his behavior toward student athletes. The Thresher reported in a March 29 article ("Allegations circulate about Greenspan's behavior toward former basketball players") that, according to SportsIllustrated.com, former Rice University basketball player Arsalan Kazemi claimed Greenspan made inappropriate comments about Kazemi's Middle Eastern descent to Kazemi, two other Middle Eastern players and former assistant coach Marco Morcos.
The surfacing of these allegations led to discussion of Greenspan's position at Rice. Some student-athletes felt that the allegations were unjustified.
"From all the hours I spent with him during my internship, on road trips and just around campus, I never heard him say any of those alleged comments," former Rice basketball player Nate Schwarze said.
Other student-athletes said they felt Greenspan should not remain in his position as athletic director after these allegations were made.
"We're tired of having an athletic director that does not represent what Rice is about and does not carry us forward," an athlete who wished to remain anonymous said. "Even without [the allegations Greenspan is facing], I would still want a new athletic director. [Greenspan] is just not representing Rice the way he should."
Greenspan continues to deny the allegations of racial insensitivity made against him.
"I will stand by my integrity, honesty, and my sense of appreciation for people of all ethnic backgrounds and gender," Greenspan said.
Rice conducted an investigation into the allegations and found no basis for the charges, according to the Office of Public Affairs.
Former Rice soccer player Andie Obermeyer (Baker '13) said she looks forward to the future of Rice's athletic department upon Greenspan's departure.
"I am ecstatic for the opportunity Rice has to rededicate itself to Division I athletics," Obermeyer said. "I can only hope our next [athletic director] truly understands the unique, awesome and difficult aspects that come with being a student-athlete at Rice. I am not sure what the administration plans to do in order to fill this position, but anything less than a national search would be a disappointment. I would love it if the new athletic director more actively sought Title IX compliance, as this remains a serious issue in college athletics."
On the Parliament, an online forum focused on the discussion of Rice athletics, the current discussion thread devoted to Greenspan's departure is entitled "DING DONG."
"This is a reference to 'Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead,'" Obermeyer said. "[It] seems the community and Rice Owl fans are as happy as I [am]."
The thread can be viewed at csnbbs.com/showthread.php?tid=636616.
Despite the controversy, Greenspan leaves on the heels of a successful season for Rice athletic teams. Over the past year, the Owls won Conference USA championships in tennis, swimming and women's soccer, and the baseball team recently competed in the Super Regionals. In January, the football team won a 33-14 victory against the Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. During Greenspan's time as athletic director, Rice also began construction on the $8 million George R. Brown Tennis Center and began the planning of a $44.5 million end-zone facility.
Greenspan said he did not want to overshadow the successes of Rice's student athletes with the announcement of his decision to leave Rice.
"I certainly didn't want this to be going while we were still playing baseball," Greenspan said. "I have a really good, strong, positive relationship with [Head Coach Wayne Graham] and I didn't want in any way this to be a distraction to him."
Obermeyer said she considers the timing of Greenspan's departure suspicious.
"Two and a half months after the SI article and four days after the last spring competition seems like convenient timing," Obermeyer said.
Update as of June 20:
When Greenspan leaves Rice, Senior Executive Athletics Director Rick Mello will take over as interim Athletics Director. A permanent director will be decided at a later date.
The Rice Thresher will continue to investigate and will update the story as information becomes available.