New AD Christian Spears Sets Priorities

Justin Zimmer, Reporter

Christian Spears, Marshall’s new athletic director, addressed the ongoing legal proceeding between Marshall and Conference USA Friday at his introductory news conference.     

The biggest issue on the agenda for Spears will be to navigate the lawsuit between Marshall University and Conference USA. He made the following comments concerning the lawsuit and let Jeff O’Malley finish the process: “When you start something and you begin that leadership role, Jeff needs to see that through.” Spears added, “I just have immense confidence in Jeff’s leadership on this. So, we’ll work with Jeff, and we’ll keep moving that thing forward.”  

The second issue that will greet Spears in the early days is the construction of a new baseball stadium. However, he spoke about how he had spoken with stakeholders in the first couple of days. “Yeah, I’ve already had some conversations with some good people who’ve done some of the initial schematic design for the baseball stadium.” To solve this problem Spears is focusing on collaboration “We’re going to figure out a way to work with the city, work with the team, get the baseball stadium going and manage the schematic design, get the construction started, continue to raise funds, manage the expense load.”  

Until Spears begins on March 14, O’ Malley will continue to serve as the university’s interim athletic director.    

When asked how Spears and O’ Malley can work together, President Brad D. Smith talked about how retaining O’Malley will be a great outcome for all parties involved. “Jeff is an icon in our institution. He’s invested 20 years here. He’s beloved, everyone loves and trust him. He is an amazing, amazing partner. And I think if he makes the decision to stay, and Christian is excited about him staying and we’re going to have a dynamic duo that cannot be competed with.” Before serving as interim athletic director O’Malley served as the university’s Associate Director of Athletics/Chief of Staff for 20 years.  

Christian Spears joins the Thundering Herd after serving as the deputy athletic director and chief operating officer at the University of Pittsburgh.  

Before his time in Pittsburgh, he was in the Mid-American Conference as the deputy athletic director at Eastern Michigan University. With Eastern Michigan, he helped lead the Eagles to their first bowl appearance back in 2014. Before Eastern Michigan, Spears had stops at both Northern and Southern Illinois. He started his journey in college athletics at Long Beach State and Ohio State.