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New Falcon athletic director looks to the future

September 16, 2010

With the recent retirement of long-time Falcon’s athletic director, Rick Bowen, the University is under new direction. Roger Ternes takes over the reins as the athletic director at UW-River Falls.

Ternes, a native of North Dakota, is no stranger to the world of directing an athletic program.

“I spent 20 years at William Woods University in Fulton, Mo. as the athletic director, and the last 11 years prior to coming here as the director at Dickinson State University, which is my alma-mater,” Ternes said.

With experience clearly on his side, Ternes will be the first to admit that he is still new to the River Falls community. “I started here on July 19,” said Ternes with a grin on his face. “So that right there gives you a little preview of my time here.”

Growing up in an agricultural community, Ternes said he took an immediate love to basketball. Upon arriving to college, Ternes came to a realization that athletes reach a peak in their ability to perform on the court or field. Ternes explained that he still possessed a strong desire to be around athletics.

“Going to college, I was not good enough to play there,” said Ternes. “So what are your other avenues? You have either coaching or directing; just that kind of thing.”

Understanding that he still very much wanted to be a part of the pastime that he loved, Ternes turned to coaching as means of staying around basketball. Over time, that coaching turned into a passion, which led him to his position as an athletic director.

“I’ve coached everything from fast-pitch softball, all the way to basketball, both men’s and women’s,” said Ternes. “And through those things, as a part of my job, I’ve been an athletic director since 1979.”

Ternes said he understands his role as an athletic director at a school that has had its athletic struggles. He said he feels obligated to turn those struggles around; though, not much can be done as this semester had already been planned out before Ternes came to UWRF.

“Understanding that I arrived July19, what was happening when I got here, [was] going to happen regardlss,” Ternes said. With an understanding that athletics on campus are largely set in place for the upcoming season, Ternes looks to the future for improvement.

“I believe that where I have the greatest amount of influence and the most work to do, is in the hiring of future staff,” Ternes said.

The resignation of Head Football Coach John O’Grady will leave a large hole in the program. Ternes said that the search for, as well as the hiring of a new coach, is essential to the long-term success of the program.

“The hire we make as the head football coach will be critical for the future of UWRF, [and not just for] the football program, but [also for] the entire athletic program as well,” Ternes said. “Who we bring in to fill that role will be very critical.”

The retirement of former Athletic Director Rick Bowen has also left a void in the athletic program at UWRF.

Bowen brought 25 years of service to Falcon sports, and that is something Ternes is very conscious of. Ternes plans to continue and improve on Bowen’s legacy.

“I have received a lot of good advice from Rick,” Ternes said. “I was able to visit with him during the interview process, as well as a few times since I started working.

There is no doubt that he is passionate about this place. You can hear it in his voice.” Recognizing the shoes he begins to fill at this position, Ternes embraces his new surroundings as an opportunity for growth and success.

Ternes said he is ready to get down to business and lead the athletic program in the right direction. “It just comes down to rolling up our sleeves and getting things done,” said Ternes. “And that’s exactly what we are going to do.”