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Barrett resigns as St. Scholastica AD

Tony Barrett won't be athletic director any longer when St. Scholastica's football team plays its inaugural home game against Crown College on Oct. 4, but he expects to be in the Malosky Stadium stands cheering on the Saints.

Tony Barrett won't be athletic director any longer when St. Scholastica's football team plays its inaugural home game against Crown College on Oct. 4, but he expects to be in the Malosky Stadium stands cheering on the Saints.

"I might have to pay for a ticket, but I will be there without a doubt," Barrett said Tuesday, one day after announcing his resignation to college administrators.

Barrett, whose resignation is effective Sept. 1 after 3½ years on the job, will resume his position as an economics professor at the college. He's spent 15 of his 25 years teaching the subject at St. Scholastica.

"This seemed like the right time," he said. "I didn't miss grading the papers, but I missed the students."

Barrett, 56, said health issues were a catalyst in his decision to step down. He said he has suffered from irregular heartbeats in the past, often brought about by stress, and more recent episodes convinced him to return to a less-stressful environment.

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"I've thought about retirement every day for the last five years," he said with a chuckle.

Barrett said a national search for his replacement would begin next week. A search committee will be chaired by Brian Dalton, the college's Vice President for Enrollment Management and Barrett's immediate boss. Dalton was impressed by Barrett's performance and energy.

"During these past few years of exciting growth and change -- when we needed it most -- Tony Barrett provided Saints athletics with a learned mind, a steady hand and boundless passion for the success of our students and our teams," Dalton said in a news release.

Among Barrett's key accomplishments were adding football and Nordic skiing and overseeing an increase in athletic infrastructure. The latter includes $6.2 million in construction currently in progress and an $800,000 installation of FieldTurf that will double as a soccer field and football practice field. The football team will split four home games at Malosky and Public Schools Stadium.

Barrett hired Greg Carlson to run the football program, and Carlson said he was instantly impressed by Barrett's style and leadership.

"As I got to know Tony Barrett [during the interview process], he thoroughly convinced me that if I got the position he was 100 percent committed to the football program," Carlson said. "There are several reasons why I accepted the position, and one was Tony Barrett."

Barrett said he took the job hoping to help change the direction of Saints athletics. That included a systematic emphasis on recruiting more athletes -- he expects the Saints to have close to 400 this fall -- and on developing winning programs or continuing success in other sports.

Though athletics are only a part of a college's overall landscape, Barrett believes that it's often people's first introduction to a school.

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"And I wanted the first view of St. Scholastica to be very positive," he said.

He took over at a time when the college was in the process of moving from NAIA to NCAA Division III status. St. Scholastica was dual-affiliated in both organizations for nearly 20 years before making a full push to Division III.

One of Barrett's first directives was to tell coaches that the Saints would be affiliated only with the NCAA by the fall of 2006.

"Everyone knows what the NCAA is, nobody knows what the NAIA is," he said. "My part was saying, 'Hey, let's do it.' So we burned our bridges behind us and moved on."

Now, Barrett is moving on. But there will be no burned bridges this time, just a bleacher seat waiting for him to watch the football team's opener.

RICK WEEGMAN can be reached at (218) 723-5302, (800) 456-8181 or by e-mail at rweegman@duluthnews.com .

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