Athletic Director Laing Kennedy to retire

Josh Johnston

Watch a video of Laing Kennedy discussing his retirement.

Kent State Athletic Director Laing Kennedy will retire in 2010, he announced at a press conference Monday afternoon at the M.A.C. Center.

Effective July 1, 2010, Kennedy will step down after his 16th year as the head of Kent State’s athletic department. Kennedy said he made the decision after discussing it with his family.

“They’ve been part of my hopes and dreams my entire life,” Kennedy said of his family. “I now want to be part of their hopes and dreams, particularly my grandchildren.”

Calling himself a “doting grandfather,” Kennedy continued by remarking on the athletic achievements of his grandchildren.

“When you reach my age, yes you think about (retirement),” he said. “When you visit your family, you think ‘this wouldn’t be a bad thing to do every day.’

“At the same time, I can tell you that I love my job, I love what I do each and every day. I get up early and can’t wait to get to work because this is a very stimulating and energetic operation that we have here at this university.”

Before speaking at the press conference, President Lester Lefton turned to Kennedy, hugged him and said “This is my guy.”

“This is a bittersweet moment for Kent State,” Lefton said. “Laing Kennedy has led the athletic department for what will be 16 years at his retirement. It has been an extraordinary 16 years.”

The early notice of Kennedy’s retirement gives Kent State almost a year to choose his successor. Lefton said a committee will be formed and begin searching when the timing is right.

“I’d like Laing to be able to celebrate, take a couple of victory laps around the M.A.C. and around the campus,” Lefton said. “At the appropriate time, we will find the right person who will lead Kent State’s athletic department into the future. We’ll seek input from all the appropriate folks at the appropriate time.”

Since taking the position at Kent State in 1994, Kennedy has watched 85 teams win Mid-American Conference titles. This past year, the men’s athletic teams won the Reese Trophy for the fourth time in Kennedy’s tenure.

“You look at where Kent State athletics is today, it’s really quite extraordinary,” Lefton said. “He and his coaches have put together extraordinary teams that have had the most winning seasons they’ve ever had.”

With a year left before his retirement, Kennedy said the athletic department still has “some heavy lifting to do.”

“I’m looking forward to this last year with excitement and anticipation,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful, wonderful time. It’s been a labor of love: I do what I love and I love what I do. Every day.”

Contact sports editor Josh Johnston at [email protected].