John Decker announced as new Athletic Director


SVSU appointed John Decker to the position of Director of Athletics on Aug. 3, with the official announcement released on Sept. 13. Decker had served as the interim director since January upon then-Director Mike Watson’s retirement.

Decker was chosen as interim because of his experience and familiarity with the Athletics Department. In September 2017, Decker said that administration asked him to oversee the Athletics Department to allow a “more closer management” of SVSU athletics.

Given his experiences as a former student-athlete and his work overseeing the department, Decker was a natural choice for interim and, now, as permanent director.

“When Mike Watson retired, I asked John Decker to go over and be interim,” SVSU President Donald Bachand said. “I think he did a really outstanding job for what they needed at the time. We’re in the process in reevaluating things in Athletics. Mike has been here a long time, so we wanted to refresh and take an objective look at the department.”

During his time as interim director, Decker worked closely with Bachand and other SVSU administrators to develop and implement changes and new goals to Athletics.

“The administrators felt that things were going well in athletics, and I think that we wanted to incorporate some organizational changes,” Decker said.

While transitioning full-time into the director position, Decker will split the responsibilities of his job as associate vice president and general counsel with Ellen Crane, the director of Human Resources.

“Originally, I had planned on staying in the general counsel position for a while longer and to mentor Ellen Crane into that position over a longer period of time,” Decker said. “But we decided we really needed to have a permanent athletic director position, and so after discussions we had in the early summer, we decided to make the changes that had been made. That’s how I got the interim tag removed.”

By the end of the year, Decker will transition more fully out of the general counsel role, and Crane will transition more fully into it.

“My role will largely be athletic director with a little sliver of general counsel work that I will continue to do just because we don’t want to lose that expertise,” Decker said. Decker has three major goals and projects as director.

“In Division II, athletics have some responsibility in supporting their team in the form on fundraising,” Decker said. “So we have added the position of Director of Athletic Development. … Kevin Schultz, who was formerly with the Alumni Affairs office, will be joining us in the Athletic Department.”

Decker hopes to find a more suitable official turf, since Michigan’s climate is not ideal for natural turf fields. He also wants to continue focusing on academic support for student athletes and NCAA compliance.