Bob Roller announced today his resignation as Samford University’s director of athletics, effective Nov. 30. Roller, who has headed the school’s athletics programs since 1999, cited “strictly personal reasons” for the decision.
“It has been the joy of my professional career to witness the growth of Samford athletics during the past 11 years,” Roller said. “At this time in my life, I need to make this move solely in my best personal interests. Now that a major portion of the strategic plan for raising the profile of Samford athletics through facility improvements and conference realignment has been achieved, it is the proper time for me to take this step.
“I take lifelong friendships and the pleasure of being part of a great period of renewal for the entire Samford athletics programs with me. The student-athletes, coaches, staff, faculty, administration and fans have been a blessing, and I will greatly miss them all.”
During Roller’s tenure, the entire landscape of the Bulldogs’ program has been transformed, according to Harry B. (Buck) Brock III, Samford’s vice president for business and financial affairs. Samford athletics have seen the raising of funds to support the construction and building of several major facilities, including the Pete Hanna Center, a 6,000-seat multi-purpose facility for the basketball and volleyball programs that includes locker rooms, weight rooms and administrative offices; Joe Lee Griffin Field for baseball; the Cooney Family Field House with locker room, offices, weight and equipment rooms for football; the Samford Tennis Center, with the Pat M. Courington Tennis Pavilion and indoor courts and the Darwin C. Hardison outdoor courts; and a new track and field/soccer stadium currently under construction and scheduled for completion in the spring of 2011.
Additionally, Samford made two major NCAA Division I conference moves during Roller’s term. The Bulldogs moved from the Atlantic Sun Conference to the Ohio Valley Conference in 2003 before accepting an invitation to the Southern Conference in 2008.
Through all of this transformation, Samford maintained one of the highest scores in NCAA Division I in the annual Academic Performance Rate (APR) national results, while the women’s athletics programs won four of the last six All-Sports Championships in the Southern and Ohio Valley Conferences. “Bob Roller’s departure from Samford leaves a hole in my heart”, said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. “In addition to providing visionary and prudent leadership for athletics, he is a treasured friend to many of Samford’s employees, alumni, and friends. Without doubt, Samford has been the beneficiary of this season of his career. In his self-effacing way, Bob always refers to our progress as a ‘team effort,’ but we are very much aware that he has played a major role in shaping our success in athletics throughout the past decade. I am grateful for his extraordinary work on behalf of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff.
“In part because of the strong foundation that Bob has built, there is no reason to doubt the bright future of our program,” Westmoreland added. “Mr. Brock and others will work with Bob in the weeks to come to achieve a great transition and to complete a national search for a new director of athletics.” Westmoreland concluded by saying, “I wish the very best for Bob as he prepares for the next chapter of his life.”
Roller’s accomplishments were recognized this past summer when he was named 2010 Athletics Director of the Year for the southeast region by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). Roller came to Samford in 1997 as a fundraising officer primarily for athletics before being named the university’s third full-time director of athletics. He later earned a master’s degree in education administration from Samford in 2000. His son, Brad, is a 2008 Samford graduate.