Keith Hackett was officially introduced as the new athletic director at a press conference Friday afternoon. He used the event to share his vision for UAA athletics and to address some lingering questions. Hackett’s plan for the department is a three-headed monster.
The first step is ensuring they are always in alignment with the educational mission of the university. He wants to stress the “student” aspect of being a student-athlete.
Secondly, he is committed to the safety, health and wellbeing of the athletes. He vowed this will be the top priority when making decisions.
Last of all, he wants to engage the community.
“The more we get involved with the community, the more involved they’re going to get with us,” Hackett said. “The only way they’re going to come is if we invite them to come.”
While it was third on the list, Hackett’s approach to community involvement was a central theme during his time at the podium. He wants the coaches, players and staff to become integral parts of Anchorage.
He came from a university (Nevada, Reno) that had a strong relationship with the community around it. Creating the same atmosphere and culture at UAA is essential to him.
Hackett is also reaching out to the groups closer to home.
For example, he met with members of the UAA Hockey Alumni Association the morning of the press conference. And the day he landed in Anchorage, his first stop was the Sullivan Arena to sit down with the Kendall Hockey Classic committee.
News of his early talks with these hockey groups should comfort Seawolf fans. But he did promise to extend his hand to all other forms of alumni, as well.
Before he became a candidate for athletic director, Hackett wasn’t very familiar with Alaska. In fact, his first visit to Anchorage was last Tuesday. The challenge of acclimating himself to a foreign environment doesn’t scare him, though. He was a self-described outsider at Nevada, and he never allowed that to slow him down.
Hackett’s research on his new residence led him to the state motto, “North to the future.”
The phrase resonated with him. He feels it represents what he’s doing by taking on the athletic director role at UAA.
“I’m just so fortunate to have this opportunity to be here in Anchorage today to help continue the growth of this outstanding athletic department,” Hackett said.
Because of the tumultuous stretch the department went through, the idea of Hackett having to be a fixer and healer was brought up. He acknowledged that need and thinks it will be a part of his duty as the new leader.
Hackett has been preparing for this opportunity his entire career. Accepting the position was a “no-brainer.” As he made clear several times on Friday, becoming an athletic director was always his endgame.
Well, now his goal is realized, and he’s on the clock.