By Todd Purvis/Todd Purvis
Last semester when former Eastern sports information director Karl Park announced that he would hang up the reins after 34 years of service, he left the university with a huge decision to make: Who would be the first new sports information director in nearly three and a half decades?Although this was a big decision to make, the university knew that Ryan Simmons was the man for the job after his interview.
“We had heard about Ryan several times before we hired him. We interviewed several people before we did Ryan and when we talked to him, we knew that he was the guy,” said Eastern Athletics Director John Shafer. “Ryan really wanted the job and he knew the area, and we felt like replacing a legend in Karl, that we needed someone special and he seemed like someone that had a special interest in EKU.”
Simmons is a native of Manchester, Tenn. who grew up in the area and went on to college at Middle Tennessee State University. Upon graduating from MTSU, Simmons got the job as media relations director at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn. After working at Cumberland University for almost a year, Simmons then went back to his alma matter, where he became the associate media relations director for five and a half years.
Simmons grew up as a fan of sports and has followed them for nearly his entire life.
“I played sports in high school but nothing major; I’ve just always had an interest in them. I’ve always kept up and followed sports and had a passing interest in them, but nothing more than that,” Simmons said.
Although Simmons is a fan of all sports, his first love has always been baseball.
“My favorite sport is baseball because it was what I grew up loving, but every sport is unique and interesting in their own way,” Simmons said.
One of the things Simmons is looking forward to at Eastern is getting a chance to work with the “great group” of people here on campus.
“The most rewarding thing for me is getting the chance to be around quality people and other administrators and coaches and the student athletes. It is always a lot of fun for me to be around these types of folks,” Simmons said. “I have been lucky to work with good kids everywhere that I have been and that is certainly going to continue here at Eastern.”
While at Eastern, Simmons plans to do a number of things as the sports information director.
“The main thing that I want to try to do here is to support the coaches that are in place here. My job here is to try to make the coaches jobs a little bit easier, I’m going to try to do things to help the teams recruit, and do some things to help their program improve and get their teams some coverage and all of these things fold in together,” Simmons said.
Simmons knows that it isn’t going to be easy replacing Park, but he is up for the challenge.
“Karl set the bar pretty high, he kind of has the home court advantage, too, because he knows everyone to call, but he and I are good friends, so I know that if I have any questions, I can always call him up,” Simmons said. “It’s not going to be easy to replace a guy with 34 years of experience, but it is going to be a fun challenge.”