UAA athletic director leaving program, heading to Midwest

Outgoing UAA Athletic Director Keith Hackett addresses the media for the first time on Sept. 20, 2013. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

The head of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s athletic department is resigning, and heading to the Midwest.

Outgoing UAA athletic director Keith Hackett will be taking the same job at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

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Hackett says he’s sad to leave Alaska, but he’s looking forward to being closer to family, particularly his son and three grandkids who live nearby, in Minnesota.

“What a better reason to go; spend more time with family and get to work at an outstanding institution and academic institution that has a long and storied history in athletics,” Hackett said.

Cornell College is a NCAA Division III school, fielding 19 sports.

In nearly four years with Hackett at the helm, UAA has amassed 21 conference titles, 94 All-American athletes and finished in the top-3, nationally, in women’s basketball, volleyball and men’s cross country running.

While he’s proud of the school’s athletic success, Hackett says he’s most proud of the student-athletes’ work in the classroom during his tenure.

“We have continued to improve our academic performance every single semester that I’ve been here,” Hackett said. “We’ve gotten better and better and better and better and better.”

When Hackett took over the department, student athletes were averaging better than a 3.15 grade point average. In the most recent semester, that number improved to 3.32 – an accomplishment he credits to the hard work of student athletes.

“The most important day for me is not the day that we win a conference championship or regional championship or play for a national championship,” Hackett said. “The most important day for me is the day that our student athletes walk across the stage, shake hands with the chancellor, get their diploma cover.”

More than 100 Seawolf athletes have walked across the stage since Hackett took over the department in 2013.

His last day at UAA is July 7.