By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Following a national search, Willamette University has named Rob Passage as its new director of intercollegiate athletics, effective immediately. Passage joined Willamette in 2012 as director of facilities and operations, and was later promoted to assistant athletics director in 2013 and to associate athletics director in 2016. He became interim athletics director in December.
As an undergraduate, Passage played basketball at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, where he later became assistant men's basketball coach. He then worked at the University of Chicago as an assistant men's basketball coach and event manager.
In 2002, he returned to Kalamazoo College and served as head men's basketball coach and assistant professor of physical education, and in 2007 also became assistant director of athletics. As head coach he led the Kalamazoo College Hornets to an 18-7 record during the 2002-03 season, the best since the 1993-94 season, and guided four players to First Team All-Michigan honors.
As Willamette's director of intercollegiate athletics, Passage will continue the development of a strategic plan for the department, support coaches and student athletes, and partner with advancement to prioritize fundraising and facility needs. He will also serve as the university's athletic representative to the NCAA and Northwest Conference (NWC).
"Rob brings a genuine love of Willamette, a track record of supporting student athletes and a vision to move the department forward," said Edward G. Whipple, vice president for campus life. "His combination of experience and character set him apart from other candidates and makes him an excellent choice to lead our Bearcat athletic program."
Whipple also extended his thanks to the search committee - which included faculty, staff, students, coaches, alumni and trustees - for its work throughout the process.
"I am excited to be moving into this new role as the leader of our department," Passage said. "We have an outstanding group of student-athletes, coaches, and staff here at Willamette. I look forward to continuing to support them as they pursue excellence in the classroom and in their sports. Willamette Athletics has a very storied history and I am committed to us writing some exciting new chapters in the years to come."
Passage holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Kalamazoo College and a master's degree in athletic administration from Western Michigan University. He lives in Salem with his wife and two children.