(Story courtesy of Centenary College Athletics)
SHREVEPORT, La. – Centenary College of Louisiana has announced Marcus Manning as the institution’s interim Director of Athletics and Recreation following the resignation of Dr. Robert Bunnell. Manning will serve as interim director for the 2018-2019 academic year, and Centenary expects to begin a search for a replacement early in 2019.
Manning most recently served as Director of Athletics and Vice President of Athletics and Recreation at Maryville University in St. Louis.
“We are fortunate to have a person of such caliber join our staff,” said Centenary President Dr. Christopher Holoman. “Mr. Manning’s experience and leadership will help continue the progress made by Dr. Bunnell.”
As Maryville University’s Director of Athletics and Vice President for Athletics and Recreation, Manning led a department of 22 varsity athletic programs, 30 staff members, and more than 400 student-athletes. He also managed the Saints’ operating, recruiting, scholarship, and fundraising budgets, helped design and implement two, three-year strategic plans, and established the Saints Booster Club. Manning also assisted in the design, budgeting, and construction of four major athletic facility upgrades, including a new baseball field and soccer/lacrosse field, weight room, and arena floor.
During Manning’s tenure, Maryville added NCAA teams in men’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, women’s bowling, and wrestling, and became one of the first institutions in the country to add an ESports program.
“I’m humbled, honored, and excited to be named the interim Director of Athletics and Recreation at Centenary College,” said Manning. “I want to thank Dr. Holoman for the unique opportunity to be a part of the Centenary team and community, and also lead the Athletics and Recreational programs.”
Manning received his bachelors in business management from Quincy University in 1997 and his masters in kinesiology with an emphasis in sports management from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2001. Prior to his six-year tenure at Maryville, he worked as the director of membership and legislative services for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 2008-2011.
Bunnell leaves his position on August 30 to become athletic director at Salem Community College, Carneys Point, N.J.
“Dr. Bunnell arrived at Centenary at a pivotal moment in our athletics history,” said Holoman. In a letter to campus, he commended Bunnell’s “skill, commitment, and congeniality.”
“He has assembled a great team and put in place a plan that will bring continued growth and success to Centenary’s athletics programs.”
Bunnell was instrumental in forming the Centenary Athletic Club, which serves as a fundraising arm of the athletic department. He and the CAC are overseeing improvements for both the soccer and softball complexes. The work includes artificial turf at Mayo Field for use by Ladies and Gents Soccer and Gents Lacrosse. Plans for softball include new outfield fencing and a new grandstand behind home plate. The CAC also assists in the fundraising projects selected by each Centenary athletic team.
Bunnell thanked President Holoman and the Centenary community for their teamwork during his tenure as Director of Athletics and Recreation. “My sincere thanks to President Holoman, our entire athletics and recreation staff, faculty and administration, and our remarkable student-athletes for their support and enthusiasm. Thanks also to the Shreveport-Bossier community, which has been so supportive of our program and student-athletes. I am confident that the work begun in the past two years will continue, and the Ladies and Gents will continue to improve their performance athletically and academically as they define this next chapter in Centenary’s rich and historic athletic legacy.”
Recent Centenary athletic successes under Dr. Bunnell include a NCAA tournament bid for Gents baseball after capturing both the regular season and Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament titles. In 2017-18, volleyball and women’s basketball also qualified for their respective SCAC Tournaments for the first time in program history on their own merit. Women’s volleyball also recorded its second winningest season in program history and the most victories in nearly 20 years.
More importantly, Centenary student athletes also excelled academically. Baseball player Michael Schimpf became the first Centenary student-athlete named First Team Academic All-American and received the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. For each year during Bunnell’s tenure, more than 40% of Centenary student athletes have received academic all-conference honors. In 2016-17, Ladies Gymnastics finished 11th in the country for overall team GPA.
Besides his contributions administratively, Bunnell has been instrumental in improving the fan game day experience. For the past two seasons, he has served as the public address announcer for Ladies and Gents soccer, Gents baseball, and Ladies softball. During his tenure, he has also been the voice of Centenary Baseball during web broadcasts. This past year, he served as the voice of Ladies Softball during the first ever web broadcasts from the Centenary Softball Field.