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Montana Western’s Athletic Director looks to future of Bulldog athletics

February 3, 2017

University of Montana Western’s Athletic Director Russ Richardson recently returned from Dallas, Texas where he participated in a collegiate athletics health care summit.

University of Montana Western’s Athletic Director Russ Richardson recently returned from Dallas, Texas where he participated in a collegiate athletics health care summit.

The Interassociation Summit on the Organization and Administration of Athletics Health Care Services in the University Environment summit convened with the purpose of enhancing the organization and administration of health care services for intercollegiate student-athletes.

Richardson was responsible for representing the perspective of small colleges as they develop frameworks for appropriate staffing and service requirements, providing student-athlete health care and discussing administrative and organizational implications of ensuring independent medical care.

Richardson is no stranger to attending national summits, seminars and consulting all over the United States due to his decades of experience in the field of athletic training and intercollegiate athletics.   

“We’re fortunate to have someone with Russ’s skill sets and expertise overseeing Bulldog athletics,” Chancellor Beth Weatherby said. “The amount of lecture requests he receives speaks to his national reputation as an industry leader in athletic training and administering athletics in a higher ed setting.”

Richardson, a Dillon native, graduated from Western Montana College (now Montana Western) in 1982 with a bachelor’s in secondary education while majoring in athletic training and industrial arts. He began his career in athletic training at Reedley College in Reedley, Calif. and earned a master’s in physical education from nearby California State University.

He moved to Spokane, Wash. in 1988, where he spent 23 years as Director of Athletic Training and Associate Professor of Health Sciences at Whitworth University.

During his time at Whitworth, Richardson served on numerous professional development boards and consulted with colleges across the country about their athletic training programs. 

“My family and I greatly enjoyed our experience in Spokane and it was at Whitworth where I really began to develop and grow professionally,” Richardson said. “I had a lot of opportunities to travel to other schools, both nationally and internationally, and provide my insights and perspectives on collegiate athletics. I was also able to learn a great deal from how other colleges and universities remain competitive and produce successful student-athletes, in and out of the classroom.” 

While in Eastern Washington, Richardson earned a Doctorate of Education with an emphasis in higher education administration from Washington State University in Pullman.

When he returned to Dillon in 2012 to accept an athletic trainer position at UMW, it was something of a long awaited homecoming for the born and raised southwest Montana kid who had spent 30 years away from home.   

“From Fresno to Spokane, I had a great career doing what I love, but when the opportunity to return to Dillon and my alma mater presented itself, I jumped at the chance,” Richardson said.

Richardson served as an athletic trainer until 2016 when he beat out national candidates to become UMW’s next Director of Athletics. 

“I’m blessed to be able to spend the latter part of my career as AD for the Montana Western Bulldogs,” Richardson said. “The commitment of the Dillon community to upgrading and improving the student-athlete experience has been nothing short of remarkable. It’s great to be home serving the students I care about in such an amazing place.”

He said he is looking to forward to the next chapter in Bulldog athletics, which includes “entering a new phase of excellence in athletics and academics.” The athletic department has undergone a new marketing and rebranding effort that includes a revised bulldog mascot and logos. The changes will be unveiled during UMW’s Spring Alumni Weekend in April, 2017. 

Under Richardson’s leadership the athletic department is also working on capital projects intended to update outdated athletic facilities. 

“I’m pleased to be able to lead an effort to take Bulldog athletics to the next level,” Richardson said. “Our athletes, fans and supporters deserve competitive teams in every sport and a first class experience whether on the playing field, court or in the stands.”