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John Ratliff Heads South: From Owl to Stormy Petrel

“It’s tough to leave,” says John Ratliff. “It’s been a great nine years here.”

The Owls’ top man is leaving Keene State. John Ratliff, KSC’s athletic director since 1995, has accepted a position at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. John, who starts his position on Sept. 1, will be the first athletic director in Ogle-thorpe’s history. He will be replaced in the interim by Rob Colbert, coach of the men’s basketball team.

Although he admits he has mixed emotions about leaving, John says it’s a good move at the right time.

“The program is in good shape,” he explains. “Facilities are in good shape. Things are running well. We’re in a good situation with the coaches.

“It’s time for a new challenge, to get rejuvenated somewhere new.” During his tenure, Keene State athletics made a highly successful transition from Division II to Division III and added several new facilities, including the soccer field at Owl Athletic Complex and the Recreation Center. Owl teams have won the Little East Conference Commissioner’s Cup, which is awarded to the school with the best combined record in all sports, the last four years. Owl runners Mary Proulx and Mark Miller won nine national titles between them and, last season, the men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA “Elite Eight.”

Among John’s favorite KSC memories, he says, are any time any team made a post-season appearance. “That’s why I’m in it, to see the student-athletes advance,” he explains.

He is proud that Keene State is one of four schools out of 400 to have been awarded two NCAA Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship grants. “The quality of the individuals, Kevin Justice and Dalya Qualls, makes winning these grants so rewarding,” he says. He lists the quality of Keene State’s athletics facilities (“I’d put them up against any Division III school for on-campus facilities”), the construction of the Recreation Center, and the importance the College is placing on wellness as other favorite memories of Keene State.

John is looking forward to a new set of challenges at Oglethorpe. The college has struggled in its conference, he says, but the administration has made a commitment to upgrading its athletic program, which includes hiring John as its first full-time athletic director.

He is also looking forward to warmer winters, fried chicken and sweet tea, and being able to keep his golf clubs in his car year-round. John believes that basketball coach Rob Colbert is the ideal choice for interim director. “I’m excited for Rob, he’s the perfect choice and he has a lot of support from the athletic staff.”

Originally from North Carolina, John spent eight years as the associate athletic director of Georgia Southern University and four years as athletic director of the University of Northern Florida.

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