WWU Athletic Director Lynda Goodrich retires after 26 years at helm

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 7, 2013 

Longtime Western Washington University Athletics Director Lynda Goodrich has announced she's retiring from her post after serving 26 years as Western's AD.

The announcement came in a press release early afternoon Monday, May 6.

"I'm getting to that point in my life where you start evaluating what you're doing," Goodrich said in a phone interview. "I'm 68 years old. It's been a great run, and I just feel like it was the time to move on and do something else, enjoy my life and try to help out Western in a reduced role, not as AD."

Goodrich has been a staple in Western Athletics for over four decades, first serving as WWU's women's basketball coach from 1971-90 before taking over as athletics director. She also earned both her bachelor's and master's degree from Western.

"Under Lynda Goodrich's guidance, WWU Athletics has enjoyed tremendous success on athletic fields and courts but also outstanding achievements by Western's student-athletes," WWU President Bruce Shepard said in a press release. "Her leadership has fostered a level of athletic and academic excellence among the very best in the nation."

Goodrich has enjoyed many accomplishments during her tenure as both basketball coach and AD. She's guided the Vikings to nine national titles, helped the university transfer from a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) program to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II school. She compiled a 411-125 record as women's basketball coach, never recording a losing season. Goodrich led her teams to 18 postseason appearances and had 20-win seasons 13 times. The Vikings had two NAIA Tournament quarterfinal finishes and won three regional titles under Goodrich's direction. She was also a finalist for Division II Coach of the Year in both 1981 and 1982.

Goodrich has earned numerous administrative honors. She's been selected to five Hall of Fames, which include NAIA, WWU Athletics, Northwest Women's Sports, Snohomish County Athletics and Lake Stevens High School Athletics.

WWU's athletic programs have undergone tremendous change since Goodrich landed her coaching position in 1970 and later changed to athletic director.

Goodrich listed adding scholarships, improving facilities and hiring outstanding coaches and staff as her some of her top accomplishments. She's also helped implement a marketing program, better game management and has helped refurbish Carver Gym with LED signage and a video board.

Athletic feats have been matched with academic excellence, too.

WWU students have graduated at rates well above the national NCAA Division II average with Goodrich at the helm.

Her most impactful achievement, and arguably most impressive, though, isn't measure in terms of wins and losses.

Goodrich began coaching pre-Title IX and has served as a pioneer for women in sports and athletic administrative positions. Few female athletic directors exist even today.

"I loved being a part of the charge for equality for women in sports," Goodrich said. "As a coach and as a women's athletics director, I promoted that. Women's athletics was a lot different 40 years ago than it is now."

Longtime colleague and WWU women's basketball coach Carmen Dolfo lauded Goodrich for how she's been a strong advocate for women in sports.

"I think men and women can look and see it's not about gender, it's about the job that's done," Dolfo said in a phone interview. "She is bright. She is so smart. She has really paved the way for women. She has definitely been a pioneer."

Dolfo played under Goodrich at Western, learned under her tutelage as an assistant coach and continues to ask for advice as head coach.

Though she's learned a lot from her mentor, Dolfo said it's the freedom Goodrich allows and trust she has for her coaches that makes her ideal to work with.

"She's never stepping on my toes," Dolfo said. "She let's me be me and supports me in any way. She's allowed me to do more things and has given me more freedom. She supports us, and she's been a major factor in my career while I've been at the school."

Dolfo believes Goodrich is leaving the program in a strong place, just as she left the women's basketball program in 1990 when she handed Dolfo the coaching reins.

"I think she felt she couldn't leave at a better time," Dolfo said. "It's in a great place, and she has the support of the community. I was lucky enough to take over the basketball program when it was in great shape, as well. I think that says a lot about her."

Western Athletics has enjoyed tremendous success this year and years previous.

The Vikings have won seven Great Northwest Athletic Conference titles since last fall, both the men's and women's basketball teams reached the Final Four, the women's soccer team advanced to the Far West Regional final and volleyball reached the regional semifinals.

WWU has clinched a fifth consecutive GNAC All-Sports title and can finish top 15 among the 300-plus Division II schools in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup National All-Sports standings for the fifth straight year.

"I think I'm leaving the program in great shape for whoever comes in next," Goodrich said. "I think this is a great time to leave with the success we've had this year."

Steve Card, Associate Athletic Director of Business and Finance and WWU men's golf coach, will immediately serve as interim athletics director and a national search for Goodrich's replacement will start this fall.

Goodrich will remain on board with Western as a part-time fundraiser for WWU Athletics.

"Obviously, my blood bleeds blue," Goodrich said. "I love Western, and I love what it stands for. I think this is a great institution. I was really blessed as a young professional to get hired and make my career here."

Reach Andrew Lang at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-756-2862.

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