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Tyler leaving Shepherd to become AD at Wesleyan

June 26, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- Ken Tyler is going to have a makeover.

So is Justin Namolik, for that matter.

"I only have things that are blue and gold," Tyler said Wednesday in a press conference on the basketball court in Shepherd University's Butcher Center. "They are orange and black."

"They" are the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats, the school and athletic program that made Tyler make the tough decision to step down as Shepherd's men's basketball coach after seven years to accept the job as athletic director for the Rams' West Virginia Conference rival. At the same time, Namolik was elevated from Tyler's assistant to Shepherd's interim head coach for the 2008-09 season.

"I'm going to have to get Shepherd out of my blood and out of my hair," said Tyler, a Jefferson County native who returned to the area to rebuild the Rams program. "I love Shepherd, but sometimes you have to make a decision for your family and your career. That's what I did today."

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At the same time, Namolik will be trying to get the rice out of his hair since he was notified about Wednesday's probable chain of events while he was on his honeymoon.

"This is a great wedding present Coach Tyler gave to me," said Namolik, who accepted his first head coaching job.

Tyler begins his tenure as Wesleyan's athletic director on Aug. 1, replacing George Klebez, who is retiring after 18 years at the position.

Tyler said the opportunity arose at the end of basketball season and he became part of Wesleyan's search. Tyler and his wife Dawn spent time at the Buckhannon, W.Va., campus and accepted the position Saturday.

"The heart of the matter is for the last couple of years I've given more and more thought about my career path and about getting an AD position," Tyler said. "I have a strong desire to lead on a broad level. The West Virginia Wesleyan opportunity came along and it was inspiring."

Wesleyan's program offers 18 sports, the most in the state, even surpassing West Virginia University, a major Division I program.

Tyler resigns after posting a 99-99 record in his seven seasons after coming to Shepherd from Albright (Pa.) College, a Division III school. He turned a program around that had seven straight losing seasons, finishing with winning records in his last two, the first consecutive winning seasons for the Rams since 1992-93 and '93-94.

"I want to thank you because you came in at a time seven years ago when we were struggling," said football coach Monte Cater, who made the announcements for vacationing athletic director Karl Wolf. "You were the right guy. Everyone wants to leave the program better than it was when he came, and that's the case here."

Namolik became the best man for the coaching job, largely because he will provide continuity as 10 players return from last season's 16-13 team.

Namolik joined Shepherd's staff in 2006 after spending three years as the top assistant at St. Vincent (Pa.) College. He played at Wheeling Park and Columbia.

"Today is about opportunity," Namolik said. "I've been given the chance to lead the Shepherd basketball program and I'd like to thank everyone for giving me the chance to get my dream."

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