It’s been close to two months, and there has still been no official word on what caused the sudden departure of Brian Wickstrom as the athletic director at Incarnate Word.
There are plenty of people talking about what happened, but most of what I’ve heard is roughly “ Brian didn’t do anything wrong.”
I’ve been doing this long enough, that if something bad had happened, it would’ve been out by now.
Wickstrom’s only comment was released on Twitter shortly after:
“The incredible success at UIW during my time there speaks for itself. It has been my greatest joy to provide the student-athletes and coaches something they can be proud of, all the while holding myself and everyone around me to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. I’m grateful for the opportunity. My family and I will continue to mirror the UIW mission of living in truth, faith, service, and innovation. “
Under Wickstrom, UIW saw record-setting fundraising, ticket sales, sponsorship and community engagement. So do you think that might suggest politics?
Supposedly, Dr. Thomas Evans was brought in as president to increase enrollment and that just hasn’t happened. According to some on campus, the most recent census data this fall shows overall enrollment is down and freshman enrollment is up because of a high discount rate.
Despite the strong fundraising numbers reported at the end of the fiscal year for UIW, I am not sure what the actual amount of fundraising efforts directly tied to Dr. Evans actually were.
Nobody in University Advancement would comment. Dr Evans recently unveiled former UIW President, Dr Agnese’s bronze statue on campus. That must’ve been a fun day for him!
Employees who know what happened have suggested that Brian was outshining his President, and he just didn’t like it.
If Wickstrom indeed did nothing wrong, that’s about the only way it makes sense to get rid of a man who has only had positive reviews from everyone on campus.
Even the deputy AD trying to keep the gig now can’t say one bad thing about him. He has been repeatedly telling coaches and student-athletes that Wickstrom did nothing wrong.
One source from UIW Administration said Wickstrom’s departure had nothing to do with his performance.
According to a source close to the UIW Athletics Director search back on 2017, in addition to Wickstrom, the other three finalists were Carroll College AD Charles Gross and Texas A&M Senior Associate AD for Facilities and Construction Kevin Hurley.
That source said Dr. Evans – previously the president at Carroll College – wanted to hire Gross but was denied since the search committee overwhelmingly wanted an athletic director with DI experience since UIW was beginning that journey in the fall of 2017.
Perhaps the separation was caused by the lack of knowledge and experience by UIW’s leadership when it comes to Division I Athletics. One source from campus said UIW has become the St Edwards University of the South by hiring a number of employees with ties to St. Edwards.
That alone could cause a lot conflict within a Division I Athletics program. It could not be confirmed how many employees came from Carroll College or St. Edwards because of the private school’s status and information was not available on the website.
I’ve never met Brian but my interactions with him in the past have been wholly positive. Without further information, your guess is as good as mine, but I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the person, not the institution.