After 25 years as an athletics administrator at Wisconsin, Terry Gawlik is headed west to Vandal territory.
The former senior associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator at Wisconsin was introduced Wednesday as Idaho’s new athletic director in a unanimous vote by the State Board of Education at UI’s Boise campus.
She is the first female athletic director in the university’s history.
“Terry has integrity and has responsibility for compliance implementation in Title IX issues at Wisconsin,” Idaho president Scott Green said at Gawlik’s introductory news conference.
“Terry knows what winning looks like, having produced a number of championship teams. And, finally, Terry wants to move to, live in and be a part of our community in Idaho. We had 59 applicants, and any of the five finalists the search committee believed could have done the job, but Terry truly stood out.”
A 1981 graduate of Southwestern University in Texas, Gawlik helped oversee more than 10 programs and 400 athletes at Wisconsin. She served on numerous athletics committees at the university, Big Ten Conference and NCAA levels during her tenure with the Badgers.
Gawlik will begin her five-year contract Sept. 1 and make $200,000 per year as a base salary. Incentives involving academic achievement of students and on-field performance of teams could raise her salary to $255,000.
Gawlik said the timing and fit was right for a move to Moscow. She didn’t apply for any other jobs, she said.
“I really feel like my 25 years at Wisconsin has prepared me for this moment, and I look forward to the opportunity to get on campus, get to know the coaches, what they’re about, and create a vision and culture for the department,” Gawlik said. “That will be my mission, my No. 1 mission with integrity, with fiscal responsibly at the forefront of those initiatives.”
The move was the latest in a series of turnovers at the top of sports and administration at the school.
Interim athletic director Pete Isakson served in the position for about a year after the firing of former AD Rob Spear, who was placed on administrative leave in April 2018, then fired in August for his and the university’s mishandling of sexual assault complaints made by female athletes.
Green took over as UI president April 11 after former president Chuck Staben’s contract was not renewed.
Some of the immediate challenges facing Gawlik include dealing with an athletics budget deficit of about $1 million and finding a new men’s basketball coach — former coach Don Verlin was fired earlier in the summer and interim coach Zac Claus will coach this season.
Her first step?
“Meet as many people as I can, and it starts tonight, or right here in this room after we end this press conference,” Gawlik said. “And then tomorrow, I’ll meet some of the coaches.”
Another hurdle involves fans who think the Vandals should be in the Football Bowl Subdivision instead of the Football Championship Subdivision, where they currently reside in the Big Sky Conference. The Vandals announced their impending move to the FCS in spring 2016, then played their first season in the Big Sky in 2018.
“Right now, I think the Big Sky is a good footprint for Idaho athletics,” Gawlik said, “and if we want to consider any type of move back to FBS, we need to be competitive in the FCS, so we should work towards those goals anyway.
“The goal would be hopefully we win conference championships (and) be the best athletic department in the state of Idaho.”
Gawlik graduated from Southwestern University (Texas) with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and English. She received a master’s degree from Texas State while coaching collegiate volleyball and basketball at Mary-Hardin Baylor.
Gawlik has been an administrator at Wisconsin since the late 1990s and most recently oversaw the softball, volleyball, women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s rowing programs. She also served on NCAA committees for Division I women’s basketball, men’s soccer and women’s volleyball.
“I’m thrilled for Terry. She has been an asset to Wisconsin Athletics for 25 years and now she will bring her energy, talents and integrity to this leadership role at Idaho,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a news release.
Gawlik said Moscow is where she wants to be and cited the area as another reason for taking the position. She said she likes small towns — she commuted past eight dairy farms on her way to work in Madison, Wis.
“We plan on being here as long as we can make things have a difference and move things forward. We want to live in or around Moscow and we want to fly fish whenever we get the opportunity,” she said, smiling.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @stephansports.