Lonn Reisman to retire in Spring 2024


STEPHENVILLE – On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, Tarleton State University Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Lonn Reisman stood behind a podium on stage at Wisdom Gym.

With university administrators, the Texas A&M System Chancellor and Board of Regents, and a full crowd of Texan faithful gathered for arguably the biggest announcement in school history – Tarleton State was moving to NCAA Division I.

Fighting back emotion, the longtime leader of Texan Athletics read a quote from Thomas Edison. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Lonn Reisman never gave up. He succeeded.

Now, after a 36-year career at Tarleton State University and successful reclassifications from NAIA to NCAA Division II and now Division I, Reisman has announced his retirement effective next spring after serving as the longest tenured AD in school history, topping W.J. Wisdom’s 20-year career at the helm.

“Texan Nation, we did it,” said Reisman.

“I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams to have been able to call Tarleton State University home for the last 35 years,” he continued. “I came here in 1988 to coach basketball and raise my family. Along the way, I’ve been accepted into this community, and I can say that I never gave up. Together, we took an NAIA school from Stephenville, Texas to a nationally recognized NCAA Division I university. We did it.”

Tarleton State will complete its four-year reclassification period to NCAA Division I this July.

“I am forever grateful for the dedication to our student-athletes, commitment to excellence, and steadfast leadership that Lonn Reisman has given to Tarleton State University,” said Tarleton State President Dr. James Hurley. “On behalf of the entire university, I congratulate Lonn on his upcoming and well-deserved retirement.”

Under Reisman’s direction, Tarleton State has flourished in nearly every sport, driving full speed into NCAA Division I. During the reclassification process, the institution added three athletic programs and garnered tremendous exposure with games played on some of the nation’s biggest stages. During the reclassification period when programs traditionally are slow to find success, Reisman and Texans didn’t miss a beat. The football team recorded winning seasons every year, there were three postseason appearances by the softball and men’s basketball programs, and a regular season title and near WAC Tournament title by the women’s tennis team.

Academically, the Texans recorded the highest NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores by a reclassifying school since 2011. Under Reisman’s leadership, Tarleton set an elite academic standard in its first year of reclassification with a single-year APR score of 987 which is the highest among any first-year reclassifying school in the history of the NCAA and continued those academic standards each of the last four years.

“Five years ago, when we made the decision to embark on the NCAA Division I reclassification journey, Lonn and I made a commitment to see it through together,” said President Hurley. “We have successfully completed the process, established a culture of athletic excellence, and made significant investments into infrastructure and budgets. I cannot think of a better leader in athletics to have led us through this journey than Lonn Reisman.”

Across Reisman’s 30 years as the athletic director, plus his five additional years at Tarleton preceding his AD tutelage, Reisman has seen 41 NCAA playoff appearances, 14 NCAA tournament regional championships, 20 conference tournament championships, 14 regular season conference championships, and 19 division championships.

Reisman’s journey at Tarleton State began in 1988 as a basketball coach to a struggling NAIA program.

“When I applied for this job 30 years ago, I’ll never forget it, President (Barry B.) Thompson looked me square in the eye and said, ‘You don’t have the nerve to take this job,'” he recalled.

“I looked him square in the eye, pointed back and said, ‘not only do I have the nerve to take it, but we’re going to win!’ After all this time, all I can say is that I hope I made Dr. Thompson, our fans, and all of Tarleton State University proud.”

After finding tremendous success as the basketball coach, Reisman was named the Athletic Director in 1993 and began Tarleton’s first transition to NCAA Division II and the Lone Star Conference.

During their reign in Division II, Tarleton was ranked in the national top 25 polls and qualified for the NCAA national playoffs in every sport along the way, including Final Four finishes in men’s basketball and women’s golf. He also elevated one of the most elite fundraising units in all of Division II – the Texan Club. The Texan Club has previously been recognized as a successful organization in the National Association of College Directors of Athletics publication for its fundraising efforts and success. The Texan Club had just eight corporate sponsorships when Reisman was named the Athletic Director and it now has over 200 corporate and over 300 individual members.

In his three decades at the helm, Reisman has also been involved in facility improvements while heading the Tarleton Athletics programs. Memorial Stadium underwent upgrades in 2004 when turf and visitor concessions were added, then it underwent a $26 million renovation in 2017 to upgrade the turf and build a state-of-the-art press box and home-side seating on the west side of the stadium. As part of the 2017 renovation, a $2.4 million donation by Hall of Famer Mike A. Myers was made to name the new facility the Lonn Reisman Athletic Center in honor of Reisman’s hard work and dedication to Tarleton Athletics.

Reisman retired from the sidelines after 30 years of excellence in coaching. Reisman has 691 career wins — 654 of them at Tarleton — which is the most wins by anyone in Tarleton history and the most wins of any active head coach in the state of Texas at any NCAA level. He’s one of 14 coaches at the Division I and II levels combined with more than 650 career wins and ranks within the top 15 in the country in winning percentage by a Division II head coach. His other 37 wins came in three seasons as the head coach of Connors Junior College and Trumann High School (Arkansas).

In 2018, Reisman received one of the highest honors a coach can receive from the NABC. He was named the recipient of the Guardians of the Game Award for Leadership and was recognized at the 2018 NCAA Division I Final Four in San Antonio. He is a 13-time Coach of the Year recipient too. He won back-to-back TIAA District 8 Coach of the Year awards in his first two years at Tarleton. Reisman has won five LSC Coach of the Year honors, including three awards in 2004 with the TABC Small College Coach of the Year and NABC Regional Coach of the Year to go with the LSC award. In 2014, Reisman received the NCAA Regional Coach of the Year award and was a finalist for the Clarence “Big House” Gaines National Coach of the Year. He’s a three-time National Coach of the Week winner.

A national search for Reisman’s successor has begun under the leadership and partnership of Parker Executive Search. Inquiries about the Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics position can be sent to Daniel Parker at danielparker@parkersearch.com.

“Tarleton State University is thriving in every possible way,” said President Hurley. “This is an elite destination for students and student-athletes from all over the country. We are excited to see who will come in and build off Lonn’s incredible legacy and continue the commitment to success and excellence that is here at Tarleton State.”

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