Ratcliff oversees growth at UAM


When Arkansas-Monticello athletic director Chris Ratcliff held department meetings, it was more of a two-way conversation between him and his secretary.

After hiring two new assistant athletic directors and a third one soon to be announced, there will be a few more people to bounce ideas off during meetings.

Earlier this summer, Ratcliff hired Brian Ramsey as the assistant athletic director of media relations and promoted Amy Fenolia to assistant athletic director for compliance and academic services along with the role of senior woman administrator. Ratcliff also plans on hiring an assistant athletic director for external operations.

“When I took over, we had a skeleton group,” Ratcliff said. “We needed to expand certain areas. It was just me. Over the last three years, I have been pushing for NCAA grants and moving money around to push forward.”

Besides adding new people to his staff in the administration office, Ratcliff created a new position for the women’s basketball team and the men’s basketball team.

For the first time ever, the men’s and women’s basketball team will each have a full-time assistant. Nick Woodruff was a graduate assistant for the men’s basketball team for the past three seasons and was promoted to a full-time assistant’s position.

Jeremy Ford was hired as a full-time assistant for the women’s basketball team. He spent the last three years as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team at Seminole (Okla.) State College.

Ratcliff was UAM’s women’s basketball coach for five years, so he knows how important it is to have a full-time assistant.

“It was kind of a downfall not having one,” he said. “Most of the other schools have full-time assistants and grad assistants and we just had a grad assistant. Where it hurts is recruiting.

“Once you get them trained they were leaving, so there was so much turnover. Having full-time assistants allows stability and structure.”

Ratcliff is in his second year as full-time athletic director at UAM. He was part-time athletic director for the two years prior to that.

Ratcliff was able to move funds within the department around and apply for grants to be able to add the new positions.

“It’s so cliché, but it takes a village. You can do it, but you will run yourself ragged,” he said. “It’s always encouraging when people see you add positions.”

Ramsey is familiar with UAM since he was the sports information director from 2007-11 before becoming the assistant commissioner for communications for the Great American Conference, which UAM is in.

“This position allows Brian to help out with more administrative things,” Ratcliff said. “Game day management is hard and having another administrator around like Brian during games helps out a lot.”

Fenolia spent two years as UAM’s compliance officer, but split time with the athletic department and admissions as an admission specialist. Now Fenolia will be able to work with the athletic department full-time.

Ratcliff said the compliance director is one of the most important positions on his staff.

“You have to make sure students are in the right classes and taking at least 12 hours of classes,” he said. “Having Amy do that full-time, that’s a big blessing.”

The position of external operations director should be announced soon, Ratcliff said, and very important to fundraising.

“They will be in charge of fundraising and developing our alumni relations,” he said.