as Santa Monica College athletic director

by Vince Echavaria

Rhonda Hyatt enters the fall athletic season at Santa Monica College (SMC) as only the second woman to serve as SMC athletic director.

Hyatt began serving as the college athletic director Monday, August 30th. For the past four years, she was senior associate athletic director at California State University, Northridge.

Hyatt, 44, lives in Santa Clarita with her husband, Jack.

Hyatt spent her entire 20-year career at Northridge, including positions as head athletic trainer from 1984 to 1999, interim senior women”s administrator and assistant athletic director.

The athletic director position at Santa Monica College is something she says she has wanted for a while.

ìI”m very excited,î she said. ìI had been keeping my eye on the position and hoping it would open up. I always heard it was a great place to work.î

Hyatt has a bachelor”s degree in athletic training from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a master”s degree in physical education from the University of Arizona and a doctorate in educational leadership from UCLA.

The SMC athletic director position had been held by Charlie Wright until July 2003, but the position was eliminated due to budget cuts after he left and filled on a temporary basis, according to Bruce Smith, college public information officer.

It wasn”t until Hyatt was named to the position that the position again became permanent, he said.

ìWe”re really excited to have her aboard because of her extensive experience at an NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division One school,î Smith said.

ìShe brings some great skills to the college.î

During her time at Northridge, Hyatt was involved in many areas of athletics administration. She assisted the athletic director in all aspects of management, including strategic planning, department staffing and sport team management.

Her background in facilities planning will also be an asset for the college, which hopes to expand and modernize facilities for the Athletics Department and the Kinesiology/Dance/Recreation Department on campus, Smith said.

Hyatt said the climate, environment and location of the campus were obvious reasons she wanted to work at Santa Monica College, but most of all it was the school”s potential.

ìThe campus is moving fast,î she said. ìThere”s been a lot of success in academics, and it”s expected on the athletic side too.î

When Hyatt took over as the college”s athletic director, she became only the second woman to serve the role, behind Avie Bridges. While some women may feel out of place in a role filled mostly by men, Hyatt said she is used to it, and the job is becoming more common for women.

ìI”ve been working in college athletics for the last 20 years and being a minority is part of the business,î she said. ìI”m a great role model for women in athletics.î

As the new athletic director, Hyatt is responsible for 16 intercollegiate athletic teams, the coaching staff and several other employees at the college. Her responsibilities cover a broad spectrum from managerial and administrative duties to educating the campus and community about the role of athletics, she said.

Santa Monica College teams compete in community college athletics. The athletics department at the college has had recent success after the football team and women”s volleyball team both won the south section of the Western State Conference championships last year, she said.

The success of the department can be attributed to the longtime coaches who are committed to keeping the program stable, she said. The staff at the college has done a good job maintaining the programs over the years, and preparing students for four-year schools, she said.

ìThere”s a lot of enthusiasm and vitality in the staff and athletes,î she said.

Although Hyatt has just begun her new job, she said she is impressed with the campus community, but already realizes there is a lot of work ahead.

ìGetting a transition plan and evaluating the needs of the staff and athletes are the immediate goals,î she said.