Roger Best, president of the University of Central Missouri, has selected Matt Howdeshell as the university’s next Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics.

Howdeshell will join UCM June 19, 2023, after serving in athletics at Northern Arizona University for more than 12 years. Currently the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration and Capital Projects, Howdeshell works with team members to oversee all aspects of a $25 million operating budget, lead $60 million of capital projects, coordinate capital fundraising efforts, serve as the sport administrator for the football program, while supervising the athletics business office, strength and conditioning and video staffs.

Dr. Best noted, “Dr. Howdeshell’s outstanding skills and breadth of experience provide us with the expertise we need to navigate and succeed during this transformational time in intercollegiate athletics. He is one of the most authentic individuals I have ever met, and he cares deeply about people and relationships. His family connection to Johnson County and his Missouri roots provide him with tremendous insights into UCM’s long-standing tradition of athletics and academic success, and I look forward to his leadership."

NAU Athletic Director Mike Marlow, 2022 FCS Cushman Wakefield Athletic Director of the Year, praised Howdeshell for his tremendous impact at NAU by noting, “Matt’s strong leadership abilities are anchored by the genuine trust he earns from coaches and staff through honesty, work ethic, intelligence, and loyalty. The Mules and Jennies are lucky to get him; he’ll be tremendously missed here."

Hailing from Cuba, Missouri, Howdeshell also has a proven ability to generate revenue beyond traditional fundraising. He worked collaboratively with student and university leadership to pass the NAU’s first-ever athletic student fee, generating more than $3.1 million in incremental revenue its first year.

Howdeshell also helped secure the renewal of the department’s apparel contract, the largest in the Big Sky Conference at the time, and NAU’s first-ever multimedia rights partnership with Learfield, which has enhanced NAU Athletics’ visibility, branding, and corporate sponsorship revenue. Howdeshell has also spearheaded several strategic financial initiatives and has been involved in many student-athlete welfare projects relating to gender equity and the student-athlete experience.

In accepting the position, Howdeshell stated, “I am truly honored to be selected to lead UCM Athletics and grateful to President Best and the search committee at Central Missouri for placing their confidence in me. My wife, Hiliary, and I are excited to come home to Missouri and for our family to join the Mule, Jennie, and Warrensburg communities. I look forward to working with the exceptional coaches and staff to honor past traditions, serve our student-athletes, and build the future for UCM Athletics."

Howdeshell previously served NAU as the Associate Athletic Director for Administration and Capital Projects, Assistant Athletic Director for Administration, and as the Director of Football Operations. He began his athletics career as a student manager and video coordinator at Missouri State University.

The son of two first-generation, non-traditional college students, Howdeshell earned a bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University in History Education, and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Doctor of Educational Leadership from NAU. Howdeshell and his wife, Hiliary, have three sons: Peter, Benjamin, and Max.

Kathy Anderson, UCM alumna, all-America student athlete, and longstanding Senior Woman Administrator has served as Interim Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics this year. Recognizing her many contributions, Best stated, “I appreciate Kathy’s strong leadership as interim Vice President. She is incredibly well-respected on campus and nationally, and we wouldn’t be the program we are today without her many years of dedicated, selfless, and invaluable leadership."

The search committee chaired by Provost Phil Bridgmon also included: Lindsay Chapman, General Counsel, Committee Vice Chair; Lewis Theobald, Head Coach, UCM Women's Soccer; Sydney Lierz, Student Athlete, UCM Women's Volleyball; Marshall Abney, President and CEO, Central Bank, UCM alumnus and former student-athlete; Homer Kay, President, UCM Alumni-Foundation Boar.

UCM alumnus Abney remarked, “After conducting a thorough national search, what impressed me about Matt was his deliberative and thoughtful approach to incorporating the business and student experience sides of the role to optimally position Athletics to serve as the front porch of UCM. He has a relationships-based approach to leadership that will ignite community and alumni engagement while achieving wins across the department, in competition and in the classroom."

Howdeshell will be visiting campus later in the week and will attend a public meet and greet hosted by the president. Details of his visit will be provided in a future announcement.

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