Reports: JMU Targets EKU’s Matt Roan as Next AD

Image courtesy of EKU Athletics

By Bennett Conlin

Matt Roan, the current athletic director at Eastern Kentucky, is expected to be the next athletic director at JMU, according to multiple reports. Roan will replace Jeff Bourne, who is retiring after two decades of excellence with JMU.

It’s expected that Roan will be presented to the Board of Visitors later this week as JMU’s proposed candidate to take the AD job.

Roan began his tenure as EKU’s AD in 2020, and he previously spent a handful of years leading Nicholls State’s athletic department. Roan is a Virginia native and has a law degree from the University of Kentucky.

Roan’s career highlights

Roan’s EKU bio is impressive, with him having experience hiring coaches and leading an athletic department through the pandemic. He started at EKU in January of 2020, months before COVID-19 led to the cancellation of spring sports.

He created the EKU Athletics Change Coalition during the summer of 2020, which focused on belonging inside college athletics. He also spearheaded a nine-game 2020 fall football season for EKU, dubbed the “Season of Opportunity.” Two of the nine games were broadcast nationally, with both nationally televised games coming against FBS opponents.

Roan is credited with helping bolster the financial strength of EKU’s athletic department. According to EKU’s website, there was a 312% increase in contributions to the athletic department from FY2020 to FY2022.

He helped the athletic department transition into the ASUN Conference, and he’s placed a major emphasis on student-athlete mental health and community service. He hired the school’s first Director of Student-Athlete Mental Health in 2023.

The spring of 2023 marked the 23rd consecutive semester EKU athletes posted a cumulative GPA above 3.0. Roan certainly values winning and raising money, but he’s also done well to care for athletes off the field.

He’ll be tasked with navigating JMU through a challenging athletic period. The Dukes are thriving athletically, but the college sports landscape is drastically changing with NIL, the transfer portal, and possible athlete compensation all major topics driving the sport forward. JMU needs to be nimble to find future success in a changing world.

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