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USC Beaufort didn't have to look far to find its next athletics director. He was already working in the department.
USCB announced Friday that Ty Rietkovich will become the school's interim athletics director and head softball coach beginning June 16. Rietkovich has worked as the school's director of athletic marketing for the past two years.
Rietkovich replaces Kim Abbott as athletics director. Abbott announced in March she would resign at the end of the school year to accept the same position at Columbia International University.
"Kim Abbott has given us a great foundation to start with," Rietkovich said. "It's kind of my charter to oversee the next chapter, as we begin to expand."
Rietkovich will oversee that expansion in more ways than one, as he also becomes the school's first softball coach with the intention of spending the 2010-11 school year recruiting a team to begin competition the following year.
Holding those dual responsibilities figures to be one of the biggest challenges in his new position, Rietkovich said, and he already has told the athletics staff members that he will rely on many of them to take on increased roles.
"Everybody in the department will have to take on greater responsibilities in order to maintain the level of efficiency that we've had," Rietkovich said.
The initial job posting called for a permanent replacement for Abbott, but that was amended in early May to include the "interim" tag, a move chancellor Jane Upshaw said she made because the timing of the opening didn't allow for a full search. A second change to the job description combined the athletics director duties with those of the softball coach, which made it a perfect fit for Rietkovich.
Rietkovich's career in athletics spans 30 years and includes extensive experience as a player, coach and administrator. He played football for coach Jim Carlen at the University of South Carolina from 1980-83 and was a graduate assistant under coach Joe Morrison at USC from 1984-86. After college, he served as head football coach, head golf coach and athletics director at Groves High School in Savannah from 1989-96.
Since 2000, he has been executive director of the South Effingham Angels travel softball organization. One of his teams earned the under-16 Amateur Softball Association Southern title in 2006. The association expects to boast 19 players on college teams next season. Rietkovich also is executive director of the Southern Star Softball Showcases, which attracts aspiring college softball players and recruiters from throughout the region.
"My involvement in a lot of those things are advantageous for the university," Rietkovich said, noting he will also have to delegate some of his duties within those organizations. "It's something that's going to be helpful for our goals in softball, so I'll continue to stay involved in that."
Upshaw and Rietkovich expect those connections to help the Sand Sharks quickly build a competitive softball program in much the same way baseball coach Rick Sofield's connections with the Baseball Factory helped the Sand Sharks achieve immediate success. Rietkovich said he will lean heavily on Sofield's experience in a similar situation as he launches the softball program.
Both parties also said they believe Rietkovich's familiarity with the fledgling athletics program will help make for a seamless transition.
"Ty knows USCB, USCB knows him, and we are very excited that he is taking this position with us," Upshaw said. "He knew what was going on when Kim was here, which is a good thing, and we believe that this positions us to continue on our path of excellence that Kim started, and it certainly positions us well to be competitive in women's softball from its inception."
<strong>THE TY RIETKOVICH FILE
<strong>Position:</strong> Interim athletics director and softball coach, USC Beaufort
<strong>Previously:</strong> Director of athletic marketing at USCB; Executive director of South Effingham Angels softball organization; Executive director of Southern Star Softball Showcases
<strong>Education: </strong>Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education from South Carolina (1984), athletic administration certification (1992)
<strong>Personal:</strong> Wife, Patty, is executive officer for the Homebuilders Association of Greater Savannah; Two daughters -- Katie, 19, is a freshman at the University of Georgia on a softball scholarship, and Caroline, 15, attends South Effingham High School.
<strong>Quotable:</strong> "I stepped away from the profession of coaching and teaching a few years back to help me make sure that I was the father my children needed to be and to make sure I was not missing the important things that happen as kids grow up. They are older now and don't quite need me as much, so that enabled me to accept this position, but without their and my wife's support and approval, this still would not have happened."