“After personally reviewing and interviewing a highly talented group of applicants and consulting with an outstanding Search Committee, I know that Larry Williams is the right choice to lead Marquette Athletics into its next great chapter,” Pilarz said. “In addition to his experience and success as a leader in the world of collegiate sports, he demonstrates a true alignment with the values of a Catholic, Jesuit university, through both his commitment to competition at the elite level and his dedication to the highest ethical, personal and academic standards for our student athletes and for our entire program.”
Under Williams’ leadership, the Portland Pilots won a NCAA Division I Championship in women's soccer in 2005, and earned top ten finishes in men’s cross country and first-ever national rankings in men’s basketball, baseball and tennis.
Student athletes have also succeeded in the classroom. Under his direction, the University of Portland has consistently achieved above the NCAA prescribed Academic Progress Report baseline, with nine programs recognized in the last three years for performing in the top 10 percent in the country and individual student athlete awards including a Rhodes Scholar finalist, Fulbright Scholarship winners and numerous Academic All-America and All-Conference recognitions.
He also oversaw significant facility expansion, brand development and increased exposure through television contracts and game attendance.
Williams was a two-time all American football player at the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 1985 with a bachelor of arts degree. He played professional football in the NFL from 1985 to 1993, while at the same time earning a law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1992. He then practiced law for the Indianapolis-based law firm of Baker & Daniels, before returning to Notre Dame in 1999 to work on licensing and product marketing for the Athletics Department.
“Marquette is one of the elite names in collegiate athletics. But after getting to know the people here, it was clear to me that this was a program with not only a storied history, but an extremely bright future. Just as importantly, it was a place my family and I could call home,” said Williams. “As I join this community, I look forward to working with an outstanding group of coaches, staff members and student athletes, and getting to know the alumni and fans who love this great university.”
Williams currently serves on the NCAA Championships and Sports Sponsorship Cabinet and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Issues Committee, and previously chaired the West Coast Conference Athletic Directors Council.
Williams hails from Santa Ana, California. He and his wife, Laura Lee Williams, have five children.
Allie McGuire, a 1973 alumnus, former starting guard at Marquette and son of the late coach Al McGuire, chaired the search committee for the new AD. McGuire is a retired executive with Fidelity Investments in Boston, Mass. Other members of the search committee included Doc Rivers, Arts ’85, head coach of the Boston Celtics, a Marquette trustee and a 14-year NBA veteran; Dr. Margaret Callahan, dean of the College of Nursing; and Matt Mitten, professor of law and director of Marquette’s National Sports Law Institute. The Search Committee and Father Pilarz used the input of more than 100 campus representatives to develop the key characteristics sought in the new leader, and were assisted by Parker Executive Search an Atlanta-based firm specializing in collegiate athletics.
“I was extremely impressed with Larry’s fierce commitment to the values that have always distinguished Marquette, and to the vision he shares with Father Pilarz -- for our student athletes to have a transformational education and for our teams to succeed as national leaders in athletics,” said Allie McGuire. “He’ll be a great fit at Marquette.”
After an initial pool of more than 80 interested candidates, the field was narrowed to 10 personal interviews, with two final candidates visiting campus before the selection was made.