Joan McDermott Named Director of Athletics at the University of San Francisco

USF Alum Becomes the Eighth AD Since 1961
USF Alum Becomes the Eighth AD Since 1961

SAN FRANCISCO (March 1, 2019) – The University of San Francisco is pleased to announce the promotion of Joan McDermott to Director of Athletics. A proactive and passionate leader, McDermott has served as the Deputy Athletic Director at USF since 2016 and brings a wealth of experience to help guide the department into the next era of Dons Athletics. 

“This day marks the happiest day in my professional career,” McDermott said. “I am so honored to be selected as your next Director of Athletics at the University of San Francisco. I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Board of Trustees, Fr. Paul Fitzgerald, Charlie Cross and Scott Sidwell for bringing me back to USF in 2016, and I look forward to leading the Dons to new heights for many years.” 

"Joan’s commitment to the entirety of the student-athlete experience at USF, as well as to the development of a winning athletic program that values academic performance, personal excellence, and a culture of integrity, are a beautiful expression of the mission and values of USF," said Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., president.

“With her extensive professional experience in collegiate athletics and her deep understanding of USF -- as an alumna, as a leader within the Athletic Department and with campus-wide initiatives for the past three years -- Joan will continue to build on the strong foundation that Scott Sidwell has put in place. She has a strong commitment to the academic success of our student athletes, and I am impressed by her strategic thinking, and her demonstrated skill in engaging faculty, staff, students and the greater San Francisco community in USF Athletics. I am delighted to welcome her to this new role."

“USF Athletics has made tremendous strides in the last eight years and is on course to continue this momentum,” said Charlie Cross Vice President, Business & Finance at the University of San Francisco. “I am very excited about the future of our program and am very pleased that Joan McDermott will lead us into this next chapter. Joan’s commitment to her alma mater and her significant experience as an athletic director and coach at Metro State and her experience as USF Deputy Athletic Director will contribute to our future success.”

For the last three years, McDermott has served as the Deputy Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator at USF under the leadership of outgoing Director of Athletics Scott Sidwell.  McDermott becomes the eighth Director of Athletics since 1961 and will be announced at a press conference Saturday, March 2nd at 12:00 p.m. in the first-floor lobby at the University Center. 

“My highest priority is our student-athletes,” added McDermott. “The culture in the department and the services that we provide to them must be top notch. I want every student-athlete to have a great experience where they can grow, mature and maximize their potential. I want them to graduate and show the world how teamwork, passion, and proactive leadership will help change the world not only from here but from wherever they are.” 

“Congratulations to the University of San Francisco and Fr. Fitzgerald on making a tremendous decision for their next Director of Athletics,” said Gloria Nevarez, the Commissioner of the West Coast Conference. “Joan brings a remarkable combination of experience, enthusiasm and energy into this new role. Her passion for college athletics, student-athletes, coaches and administrators makes her an exceptional fit for the mission of not only the University of San Francisco, but these traits also align with the values of the West Coast Conference and its member institutions. Joan is well equipped to continue building momentum on the Hilltop.”

While at USF, McDermott has been tasked with overseeing a broad range of operation programs within Athletics, including academic services, budget and finance, human resources, facilities, staff supervision, NCAA rules compliance, financial aid, game operations, sport supervision, and capital projects.

Prior to USF, McDermott served as the Director of Athletics at Cal State East Bay, having previously served as the Director of Athletics at Metropolitan State University of Denver. While at Cal State East Bay, the Pioneers experienced its most successful season since its transition to NCAA Division II.  She was the driving force behind a budget overhaul that saw the department’s budget balance for the first time. Under her guidance, four teams advanced to the department’s first ever NCAA Regional appearances, and the department raised its overall GPA to an all-time high of 3.031. 

She was the Director of Athletics for 17 years at Metro State, during which time the department was transformed into a perennial nationally recognized team by the NCAA. The department consistently ranked in the top 10 percent of the NACDA Learfield Sports Directors Cup Standings for NCAA Division II with a program best finish of 13th in 2008-09. She oversaw four NCAA Division II National Championships, two in men’s basketball in 2000 and ‘02, as well as titles in women’s soccer in 2004 and ’06. The men’s basketball team was the winningest program in NCAA Division II history during her tenure. 

Academically, she increased the graduation rate to over twice that of the general student body.  Metro State’s academic success rate skyrocketed from 39 percent (cohort 2001) to 64 percent (2008 cohort). She secured the first ever athletic endowed scholarships (four since 2012) and raised over $4.5 million in funds towards building new outdoor athletic facilities.

“Joan in my view is the consummate athletic director,” said Dr. Stephen Jordan, the former president of MSU Denver, president of DII President’s Council. “She’s been a successful coach, and she knows how to hire and mentor successful coaches who have gone on to have successful careers. She understands her values and I think most importantly she understands at the end of the day it is about the student-athlete experience. That the student-athlete should have the opportunity to compete at the highest levels for national championships and conference championships. I wish USF the very best, I am so excited for Joan. This is her dream job. She pursued a path to this and I am so happy that she now has this opportunity.”

McDermott has also served as a past president of Women’s Leaders in College Sports, she was the Former Vice-Chair NCAA Division II Management Council, Chair of NCAA Division II Championships Committee. She was the two-time National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year Division II West Region in 2014, and the Astro Turf Athletic Director of the Year Division II West Region in 2008. 

Prior to her exemplary career as an administrator, McDermott began her career in collegiate athletics as a highly successful women’s volleyball head coach. She boasts a career winning percentage of .675 (393-190). Her last coaching stop was at Metro State where she guided the volleyball program to a pair of top-20 rankings and was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1997.  

Her coaching career began across the bay at Saint Mary’s from 1982-87. She guided the Gaels to top-20 rankings four times (1982-’85) and was a three-time NAIA National Qualifier culminating with an NAIA National Championship in 1985. 

McDermott earned her BA in sociology/physical education from USF where she was a four-time letter winner on the Dons’ volleyball team. She holds a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Stanford. 

McDermott and her husband, Dan, reside in Alameda, and they have six children: Katie (37), Scott (33), John (28), Tim (25), Claire (22), and Jackson (17), as well as two grandchildren. 

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