The Jim Sterk era at the University of Missouri will soon come to a surprising end. The Tigers and their athletic director announced Monday that he’ll step down once a new hire is found ... and that search is underway.
Sterk, 65, was hired by the school in 2016 and brought on new coaches in both football and men’s basketball, among other sports. He also initiated projects on the South Endzone football facility at Faurot Field and a new indoor practice facility that’s scheduled for completion in 2022.
Sterk’s tenture in Columbia featured many notable points that helped set Missouri athletics on its current course. Here’s a timeline.
You’re hired (Aug. 9, 2016)
Sterk is named Missouri’s 20th athletic director following the departure of ex-AD Mack Rhoades to Baylor. Before landing the job, Sterk held AD positions at San Diego State, Washington State and Portland State.
Kim Anderson to Cuonzo Martin (March 2017)
In the first of two revenue-sport hires during his MU tenure, Sterk asks men’s basketball coach Kim Anderson to step down following the 2016-17 season after a dismal 27-68 record in three years. Sterk then hires Cuonzo Martin from Cal to replace him.
Martin has gone 66-56 with two NCAA Tournament appearances in four seasons at Mizzou.
Earleywine fired, Anderson hired (Jan.-May 2018)
Ehren Earleywine, who took Missouri softball to three College World Series, is fired by Sterk in January 2018 following allegations of verbal abuse toward players.
After an interim season in which MU is led by coach Gina Fogue, Sterk plucks Larissa Anderson away from Hofstra. Anderson is 96-48 since her hire, taking Missouri within one win of the College World Series this past season.
Odom extended (Dec. 5, 2018)
Following a 19-18 start in his first three seasons after the retirement of longtime head coach Gary Pinkel, former Tigers player Barry Odom has his contract extended by Sterk through 2024.
Odom’s also given a pay raise after the Tigers secure a bid to the Liberty Bowl.
South Endzone project done (summer 2019)
Ground was broken in March 2018 on the South Endzone project, and Mizzou football moves into the $98 million facility ahead of the 2019-20 season.
It’s the largest campus construction project in school history.
Sanctions affect Mizzou (Jan.-Nov. 2019)
NCAA penalties are assessed on MU in January 2019: a rogue athletics tutor had helped student-athletes cheat through classes. The punishment includes postseason bans for the football, baseball and softball teams, fines, and scholarship and recruiting restrictions.
Mizzou fights back through an appeal, but the NCAA upholds the penalties it had leveled. Following the NCAA’s final ruling, Sterk bluntly says that “the current system is broken.”
Odom fired, Drinkwitz hired (Nov. - Dec. 2019)
Missouri football’s midseason free-fall from Top 25 to five-game losing streak spells the end of the line for Odom on Nov. 30. He finishe 25-25 over four years.
Sterk hires Appalachian State’s Eliah Drinkwitz eight days later. Drinkwitz leads the Tigers to a 5-5 record in his first season as MU plays a COVID-affected SEC-only schedule. He is about to begin his second season in Columbia.
Sterk, coaches take pay cuts (April 16, 2020)
In response to financial burdens accumulated at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sterk and five Missouri coaches take voluntary 10% salary cuts from May 1 to July 31.
Approval of practice facility (May 19, 2021)
Missouri’s board of curators gives the green light for a $33.4 million indoor practice facility for the football, baseball, softball and soccer programs.
Funded entirely by private donations, the facility will be located adjacent to the South Endzone complex and is scheduled to be completed late in 2022.
Opendorse and NIL (Nov. 2020-July 2021)
The Missouri athletic department partners with sports marketing agency Opendorse in November 2020 to help student-athletes navigate the looming world of name, image and likeness in college sports.
Sterk supports Missouri’s bipartisan bill to legalize NIL in the state, and Gov. Mike Parson later signs it into law, effective Aug. 28, 2021.
Record fundraising (July 2021)
The school announces in early July that total donations for the 2020-21 fiscal year amounted to $55.5 million, breaking the school’s record for a fiscal year set in 2016-17. That was Sterk’s first school year at MU.
Three of the top five fundraising years in Mizzou athletics history came while Sterk was AD.
Sterk steps down (Monday)
Sterk has two years left on his contract as Missouri’s athletic director when a Monday afternoon news release announces his plan to depart once his successor is found. The school and Sterk agreed to part ways, according to the release.
The surprise news comes on the same day Texas and Oklahoma announce they’ll be leaving the Big 12. Both are likely to apply for membership in the SEC.