Familiar Face Returns to SCC: O’Brien Named SCC Athletic Director

(West Burlington, IA) – A familiar face has returned to SCC. Former men’s basketball head coach Joe O’Brien was named new athletic director. He started on January 15.

“My first day on the job was actually a snow day,” O’Brien joked.

Bad weather notwithstanding, O’Brien comes to Blackhawk Athletics at a time of unprecedented growth and program expansion.

“When I left SCC in 2004, there were 5 sports,” O’Brien remembered. “Now we’re at 14 with plans to add even more.”

Athletic programming expansion is one component of SCC President Dr. Michael Ash’s ongoing efforts to build the College into a strong and vibrant institution for our students and our region.

“A strong athletics program provides opportunities for students who may otherwise not have easy access to college,” Ash noted. “Not only do our student-athletes have the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level, it’s an excellent opportunity for them to get an education.”

Ash continued that leveraging athletic program expansion is one of the strategies employed by SCC leadership to strengthen overall enrollment. Overseeing that initiative requires someone with experience and leadership.

“Joe has decades of experience developing players and staff in order to build successful programs,” said Ash. “With so many new programs just beginning to get their footing, that’s what SCC needs right now.”

O’Brien’s coaching career spans more than 27 years at the collegiate level. He led the Blackhawks to three national championships during his 8-year tenure at SCC. After that, he was head men’s basketball coach at Idaho State University 2006-2012. Other coaching stints during his career include programs at Lincoln College, Southeastern Louisiana University, Central Missouri State, and Florida International University.

He replaces outgoing director Peyton Deterding who left in November.

A welcome reception for O’Brien will take place on Thursday, February 1 at 3:00 p.m. in Loren Walker Arena on the West Burlington campus. O’Brien and Dr. Ash will share their ideas on the future of Blackhawk Athletics. The event is open to the public.

Search committee chair Chuck Chrisman said that the number of qualified candidates is a reflection on SCC’s reputation among collegiate athletic programs.

“We were impressed with the quantity and quality of applicants,” said Chrisman, who serves as vice president of technology services for SCC. “Key factors with the committee were Joe’s history with SCC, his extensive connections with the community, and experience with a number of college programs.”

O’Brien is looking forward to taking advantage of the all the new facilities and services available to students. He intends to lay the groundwork so that coaches have the resources to develop and field not just competitive, but winning teams.

“When I was here before, we didn’t have anything close the same level of amenities,” said O’Brien. “Now with the athletic facilities, residence halls, academic offerings, and student support services, we’re in a position to recruit top talent, be that future athletes or coaches.”

High on the list of considerations for program expansion are new men’s and women’s wrestling programs. A new multi-purpose facility – which could house the program – is set to be complete this fall. A final decision is expected later this year.

“My wife Amy and I raised our kids in Burlington, I’m from the area, I had some of the most successful seasons in my career at SCC and I’ve watched its growth over the past 30 years,” O’Brien said. “Now I have an opportunity to lead the next generation of coaches and players as we work together to build winning programs.”

For more information on Blackhawk Athletics, visit sccblackhawks.com.

To learn more about SCC, visit scciowa.edu.