Laird Veatch title revised to Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Memphis
June 9, 2021 — Laird Veatch’s title has been revised to Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Memphis, UofM President M. David Rudd announced Wednesday. Veatch was named Director of Athletics at the UofM on Aug. 9, 2019, and began on Oct. 1, 2019.
“Laird’s revised title recognizes the critical role of intercollegiate athletics on our campus and in our community, along with our demonstrated commitment to academic success for our student-athletes and the importance of coordination across all of our divisions,” said Rudd. “Our athletic department is an essential partner in our academic community, and this title represents that partnership.”
Memphis Tigers student-athletes recorded a 3.268 grade point average in the spring 2021 semester, which is the second-best semester in school history and marks the 16th-consecutive term of a 3.0 or higher GPA among all student-athletes. This semester, men’s cross country broke the single-semester team GPA record with a 3.719 while the women’s team had the highest female team GPA at 3.672.
Further highlights of the spring 2021 semester include:
- 3.451 freshman GPA
- 301 student-athletes in the Tiger 3.0 GPA Club (71% overall, 84% of freshmen)
- 189 student-athletes with Dean’s List Honors for a 3.5 GPA or above, including 55 freshmen
- 51 student-athletes in the Tiger 4.0 GPA Club
- Of the spring graduates, Luke Biasi (men’s soccer) and Paige Sandwell (women’s track and field) graduated Summa Cum Laude (3.80-4.00 GPA), 13 graduated Magna Cum Laude (3.50-3.79) and 11 graduated Cum Laude (3.25-3.49)
In 2019-20, the UofM had a record-setting NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) report in which six programs – women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s golf, football, men’s soccer and women’s soccer – set program APR records. Three of those programs – women’s basketball, women’s golf and men’s soccer – had the highest APR in the American Athletic Conference.
Veatch successfully navigated Memphis Athletics through the pandemic this past year with the Keep Memphis Roaring campaign. He made excellent hires in head football coach Ryan Silverfield and head women’s basketball coach Katrina Merriweather while extending the contract of fourth-year head men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway.
Silverfield became the all-time winningest first-year head coach in Memphis football history as well as being the first Tiger coach to win a bowl game in his first season while Hardaway has led the Tigers to a 63-32 (.663) record, three-straight 20-win seasons and the 2021 National Invitation Tournament championship.
Merriweather, who led Wright State to the program’s first NCAA Tournament win this season and the only three Horizon League Championships in school history, was named head coach on March 29. She also led the Raiders to the school’s only back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2019 and 2021.
Veatch established a new administrative leadership team and organizational restructure with a focus on department culture and communication.
Recent Memphis Athletics accomplishments include the extensive $3.5 million renovation to historic Elma Roane Fieldhouse for women’s basketball, the $11.2 million indoor practice facility for football, groundbreaking for the new $24 million Leftwich Tennis Center partnership between the City of Memphis and the UofM as well as the renovated Olympic Sports weight room and nutrition center.
Other highlights of the past year include establishing UMADE (University of Memphis Athletics for Diversity and Equality) along with the popular equality logo. A new partnership with WMC Action News 5 in television production for home Tiger athletic events was announced as well as landing a new flagship radio home with Cumulus-owned WKIM-FM, News Talk 98.9 “THE ROAR OF MEMPHIS.”
Veatch, who is on the UofM’s leadership team as a member of the President’s Council, helped push forward Memphis Athletics’ logo update and branding guideline s initiative.
The Tigers went to the first New Year’s Six bowl game in history in the 84th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in 2019 after winning a school-record 12 games and the AAC Championship, Memphis football’s first outright conference title since 1969. Memphis won the Montgomery Bowl in 2020.
In addition, women’s soccer has made two NCAA Tournament appearances while winning the 2019 regular-season AAC championship, men’s tennis earned its first NCAA Tournament win since 2014 by defeating Georgia Tech in the first round on May 8 while rifle reached the NCAA Championship for the first time in seven years this past March.