Judy Rose didn’t decide to retire from her job as UNC Charlotte’s athletic director because of the public criticism she’s been receiving.
But it did play a role in when she decided to announce it.
She originally planned to wait until March to say that she was leaving the job she has held for the past 28 years. But after falling out of favor with her school’s fan base because of recent coaching decisions — to the point that disgruntled fans could be seen holding up signs demanding her firing during an ESPN College GameDay broadcast — she changed her mind and revealed her future plans on Jan. 4.
She will continue to serve until the end of the academic year in May.
“The only effect it played was that it speeded up when I made the announcement,” Rose said at the time, alluding to the criticism she’s received.
Rose, 65, has come under fire for her decision to retain fifth-year football coach Brad Lambert after a dismal 1-11 season while dismissing basketball coach Mark Price just nine games into his third year with the 49ers.
The emotional response to those decisions, however, has diverted attention away from a remarkable career in which Rose became one of the first women to hold a position of power in major college athletics.
“She has left a legacy that will be nearly impossible to match,” Charlotte chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois said in a statement.
During her tenure with the 49ers, Rose was the force behind an ambitious expansion program that included the addition of a football program and the construction of more than $100 million worth of new facilities.
On the field of play, Charlotte’s teams earned 44 NCAA tournament team appearances in 14 sports and won 70 conference championships under her watch. The school also hosted Final Fours in both men’s and women’s basketball, along with an NCAA College Cup soccer final.
Only the third woman to become an athletic director at a Division I school, she was the first female ever to serve as a member of the NCAA men’s basketball selection committee, and in 2003-04 she was elected president of the National Association of College Directors of Athletics.
“This is a difficult announcement to make, with the love I have for the university and the athletic program,” she said. “(My husband) Ken and I have talked about this for a while and made the decision that this would be the last year. Of course, I want to honor my commitments on the committees I serve and to hosting the NCAA tournament in March. At the same time, this announcement will allow both myself and the university the opportunity to start to take the next steps.”
To that end, Charlotte has already named a 10-member search committee to find Rose’s replacement.
“Her work ethic, values, integrity, commitment to student success, and understanding of college athletics,” Dubois said, “will make finding her successor a most difficult challenge.”