Randy Vernon, who has been part of University of Cumberlands athletics for 37 years and is credited with bringing the Patriots’ programs to national prominence, is retiring as athletic director at the end of this school year.
“There comes a time when you know it’s time to let someone else do the job,” Vernon said in a school news release Wednesday. “While I really enjoy what I’m doing, it is more difficult coming to work each day and it takes longer to finish tasks that, at one time, I could finish in a much shorter time. I don’t really have any specific plans on what I want to do in my spare time, but now I can do what I want, whenever I want to do it. I know those plans will include visiting more with our grandchildren and I really look forward to that.”
Vernon was head coach of the men’s basketball team at the Williamsburg university from 1979 until becoming athletic director in 2000.
In 21 seasons as basketball coach, Vernon went 526-184. He reached 200, 300, 400, and 500 wins faster than any coach at any level of college basketball. His teams appeared in the NAIA national tournament 11 times, reaching the quarterfinals twice and the semifinals once. During Vernon’s tenure as AD, the Patriots earned the Mid-South Conference President’s Cup eight times, which is awarded annually to the school with the highest regular-season finish for all sports combined.
“Randy Vernon has been an integral part of the Cumberlands family for more than three decades,” said Cumberlands President Dr. Larry Cockrum. “He is a man of great character who has built our athletic programs into national contenders while serving with uncompromised integrity. He has earned great respect from not only the Cumberlands family, but from our competitors throughout the Mid-South Conference. We are certainly going to miss him when he retires later this year.”
As athletic director, Vernon guides UC’s 26 teams and 20 head coaches. During his tenure, UC added the sports of men’s and women’s archery, lacrosse and bowling, and all athletic facilities have been updated and improved.
“I do want to say that I enjoyed coaching more than anything I have ever done,” Vernon said . “The relationships that you build in coaching student-athletes are priceless and I am so fortunate to have coached so many outstanding young men. I am forever grateful to all of the athletes that I coached. I would also like to thank our athletic department staff. I could not have worked with a better group of individuals then our present staff. Their loyalty and dedication to our university and their jobs is very much appreciated.
“It has been a pleasure to be associated with this institution for nearly my entire working career,” said Vernon. “The people that I have worked with and for have made my time here so special. I have made friends that I will have for the rest of my life. I couldn’t think of a better place to work or to raise a family.”
Chris Kraftick will become the school’s next athletic director. Kraftick is in his eighth season as the head coach of UC’s golf teams. Over the past several years, Kraftick has been involved with administrative responsibilities of the athletic department, including overseeing game management and serving as the NAIA liaison for UC’s drug education programs.
“I am very happy to hear that Chris Kraftick will be my replacement as athletic director,” Vernon said. “I feel good about where our athletic department is now, and I believe it will only get better with Chris in charge.”