Sirianni steps down as Simpson Athletic Director

INDIANOLA, Iowa -- John Sirianni, the Simpson College athletic director, announced last week that he is leaving the job he has held for 29 years to focus on campus projects as special assistant to the college president.

Brian Niemuth, head women’s basketball coach and assistant athletic director, will become interim director of athletics.

The changes are effectively immediately. Sirianni will remain as special assistant to Simpson President John Byrd until the fall of 2014, when he will retire.

“The converging of a number of projects are coming together right now,” Sirianni said. “In order for us to have the best shot at getting this all done, I needed to shift my responsibilities.”

Sirianni’s new role will focus on completing fundraising for a new fitness center and assisting in the launch of a new health care administration program, in addition to a number of small capital projects for the athletic department.

“John has enjoyed excellent results in his fundraising efforts, and we both feel that his remaining months at Simpson are best spent working on these important projects,” Byrd said in a campus-wide email.

Sirianni is relinquishing his day-to-day administrative duties in order to focus on large-scale projects, starting with Simpson’s proposed new athletic facility, which is getting closer to becoming a reality.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for me because I can focus on two or three projects I really want to get done before my career comes to an end,” he said. “It gives me the freedom to go out and finish this project and set the stage for other facilities on campus.”

Sirianni’s family life also played a factor in his decision. He and his wife, Ginger, have four children and five grandchildren living around the country.

“This is a life-planning decision for my wife and I and my children and grandchildren,” he said. “In athletic administration, you don’t have the chance to travel much. I want my wife and I to have the opportunity to travel together, be with our children, and be grandparents.”

Niemuth is in his 26th season as head women’s basketball coach and was in his second year as assistant athletic director, a title he added in the fall of 2011.

“Brian brings a wealth of experience and a clear understanding of the values we uphold in our program,” Byrd said. “I know he will do a great job in leading our program over the next several months.”

The longest tenured head coach on campus, Niemuth has held a number of roles in the athletic department since coming to Simpson in 1987. In addition to his basketball duties, he has been the athletic training director, an instructor in the physical education department, assistant baseball coach, intramural director and outdoor facilities manager.

“I look forward to the challenges my new role will bring,” Niemuth said. “John has done a great job of building this athletic department and we want to continue to move in the right direction.”

Since Sirianni took over as Director of Athletics in 1984, Simpson has won two NCAA Division III National Championships (softball in 1997 and 1999), 61 Iowa Conference Championships and made 61 appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

He was directly responsible for five conference championships himself. In 22 years as the head baseball coach, he led Simpson to a record of 510-307-2 while winning five conference crowns. His coaching career began in 1985 and lasted until 2006, when he became the athletic director on a full-time basis.

With Byrd’s retirement set for the end of this school year, incoming president Jay Simmons will hire the program’s next director of athletics.