Sirianni tackles three major projects before he leaves

by Zach James

John Sirianni isn’t leaving Simpson. He just has some unfinished business to take care of before he leaves in the Fall of 2014.

Sirianni, former athletic director, has accepted the position of special assistant to the president for the duration of his time with the college.

One of the main assignments for Sirianni will focus on finishing what he started by tackling three projects — renovations in Cowles Center, building the new fitness center and developing a new academic program for students.

“Over the last few years since getting out of baseball, I got very much involved with fundraising with facility development,” said Sirianni, who coached the baseball team from 1985 to 2006. “As most everyone knows, we are in the final stages of fundraising and planning for renovations for Cowles and Carse.

“The amount of money that needs to be raised and in the time that it needs to be raised in, it became evident to me that you can’t do a good job at too many things,” Sirianni said.

Through that realization, President John Byrd and Sirianni agreed it was time for the Simpson Coach Hall of Fame inductee to step away from what he’s been doing for so long.

“My main goals are to work on these facility projects, and developing the health care administration program that I’m heavily involved with,” said Sirianni.

This wasn’t just a sudden decision that Sirianni made. It’s been one in the making.

“When you look at some of the dates as far as the bid process, the fundraising, everything involved with the construction, it’s all coming to ahead right now,” said Sirianni. “The bids come in at the end of the month. We have to go to the Board of Trustees on Feb. 8, we still have some fundraising to be completed. It all just converged within a short period of time.

“We will start construction in March, and with that is the transition of everything we currently have. I will have the oversight of the transition of the access of everything they need to succeed.”

All of Sirianni’s focus recently has been on fundraising efforts

“All of these things came to ahead at the same time. Rather than try to continue to deal with the daily operations, I need to take care of this.

“Over the last several months, everyone else has been picking up a great percentage of the load, because of the fundraising I’ve done recently,” said Sirianni.

Taking over for Sirianni will be Brian Niemuth, current women’s basketball coach. Taking over the daily duties as athletic director excites Niemuth, who is closing in on 500 career wins in his 26 years as head coach.

“I will have my plate full,” said Niemuth. “This new role will consist of work for me that John needed to get out of. As I told him, I’d be happy to do it, but I won’t let it affect my coaching.”

Niemuth is treating this as an experiment.

“I’m going to see how things go, and see if this is something I want to do when I’m done with coaching,” he said.

Sirianni believes Niemuth will continue the type of success as a basketball coach to his new role.

“He’s got great people skills with our staff and student-athletes,” said Sirianni. “He has the ability to make really good decisions, and our staff really respects him. Again, it all just fits together.”

Another thing that puts the pieces of this puzzle together is the timing of Byrd’s departure as Simpson president at the end of the year.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for John, and he’s done so much,” said Sirianni. “I wanted to walk out at the right time. It gives President (Jay) Simmons a year to find the right person to take over my place.”

Speaking of Simmons, Sirianni says he’s going to keep taking Simpson in the right path.

“He’s got great energy and great vision,” said Sirianni. “I think he’ll do a fantastic job, but I’m going to miss John. In my short meetings with Jay, he has all the qualities to keep Simpson moving forward.”