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Lipscomb athletes and supporters welcome Hutcheson
Athletic Director Philip Hutcheson
Athletic Director Philip Hutcheson

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dr. Carl McKelvey may have summed it up best.

“Once a Bison, always a Bison,” McKelvey said as he was called upon to pray Wednesday during a “Welcome Rally” for new athletic director Philip Hutcheson.

Hutcheson and his family met all of the Bisons and Lady Bisons athletes and coaches during an outdoor reception in front of Allen Arena.

So it was fitting that the bulk of his speech was directed to the athletes. Hutcheson, a four-time All-America in basketball for Lipscomb, NAIA Player of the Year in 1990 and the second highest score in college basketball, recalled some of the advice he was given by then Bisons coach Don Meyer.

“When I came to campus in 1986 I was told three things,” said Hutcheson. “The very first thing was to pick up trash. What that means is to leave a place better than you found it. When we would go in a locker room after a game we would clean it up even if it wasn’t our mess. If we were walking in or out of the arena we would pick it up and throw it away.

“I would encourage all you as athletes to pick up trash…to make this campus a better place because you are here…to make the game a better game because you are in it…to make your team a better team because you are on it. I would encourage you to make the student center a better place because you walk though it and to make your classroom better because you are in it.”

Hutcheson promised to make Lipscomb better than it was the day before.

He also stressed the need to play “please” and “thank you”.

“Recognize that you didn’t get where you are by yourself,” said Hutcheson. “All of you had a coach, a mom, a dad, a grandparent, a friend or a neighbor or somebody that helped you get where you are right now.

“I can’t thank my own family enough. My wife and children and my parents are here. One of the real blessings of my life has been able to work with my Dad over the past 12 years and see what he did day-by-day and see what he did for our family.”

Hutcheson added that he is going to be asking for help for the athletic program in many ways.

“We don’t have to take a back seat to any other program in the Atlantic Sun,” Hutcheson said. “We have it over every one of them in terms of coaches, the school, the facilities and the support.

“We need to be the very best we can be. By doing that you are usually going to transcend any hopes and dreams that most people will ever have for you. I would love for people to recognize us a few years from now as the premier athletic department in the A-Sun. But I think we are selling ourselves short if that is all that we care about. I think we can reach farther than that.”

Hutcheson was joined at the rally by his wife, Vera, and their three children: Hannah, 11; Sam, 9; and Hank, 6.

Hutcheson was hired for the A.D. position after a nationwide search. But Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry admitted that his wife, Rhonda, first urged him to hire Hutcheson.

“We announced it nationally and had about a dozen outstanding candidates,” said Lowry. “I met with the search committee to talk about the three finalists and they said any of the three were fine with us.

“As we talked to people more informally it became obvious that there was a bit of a consensus revolving around Philip Hutcheson. Our conversations became somewhat more direct and intense as he contemplated leading this athletic program.”

Lowry pointed to Hutcheson’s extensive history with the program as one of the plusses in making the decision.

“It’s a wonderful story,” said Lowry. “How often can a university reach back and select someone who as a student athlete was an All-America, twice NAIA Player of the Year and whose jersey is hanging in your arena?

“He was a 4.0 student at Lipscomb University and went on to Georgia to get his MBA. So has the educational background that allows him to understand what it means to be a student-athlete and to do that with excellence.”

Lowry also praised Hutcheson’s work experience at Sessions Paving Company, the family business.

“At Sessions Paving he dealt with contracts, contractors and subcontractors and cities and governments,” said Lowry. “He is now bringing to us a rich experience as a manager.”

Hutcheson is the fourth athletic director in the history of Lipscomb and the second in the NCAA era.

“Don’t sell Lipscomb short,” said Hutcheson. “Represent this school with pride. We have the potential to do great things here over the next few years.”