Quality facility upgrades from Redbird Arena to Duffy Bass Field to Hancock Stadium provide a visual picture of the quality leadership Larry Lyons has shown during more than 27 years with Illinois State athletics, leading up to his May 2013 appointment as Director of Athletics.
When Hancock Stadium, the new "front door" to the Illinois State University campus and Bloomington-Normal community, opens with the Sept. 21 football game between the Redbirds and Abilene Christian, it will be the latest and largest in a long line of Redbird Athletics facility improvements and other projects with the Lyons touch.
It is hardly ironic that the native of nearby Pontiac, Ill., is beginning his tenure as athletics director focused on the completion of the $26 million renovation of Hancock Stadium. His creative talents in finance, facilities and administrative leadership have enhanced opportunities for Illinois State University student-athletes to achieve their goals and reach for their dreams. In the process, those student-athletes have won conference championships and earned academic degrees at the highest levels in more than 100 years of Redbird Athletics history.
Beyond facilities, Lyons' leadership has resulted in financial stability through the enhancement and quality expenditure of all five principal forms of funding; student fees, development dollars, income fund, tuition waivers plus branding and ticket revenue. Lyons has been the athletics department's liaison to the University for human resources, administrative and fee-related projects.
Also serving as campus representative to the ISU Foundation Board of Directors for three terms, the certified public accountant became known throughout college athletics for his fiscal skills. His ability to craft winning competitive bids for post-season tournaments, both conference and NCAA, has provided the competitive "home court" advantage for many quality Redbird teams, and has helped Illinois State earn a national reputation for hosting significant competitions.
Additionally, Lyons has served as the liaison to the Weibring Golf Club, supervised the athletic training, athletic equipment and the strength and conditioning units, while providing administrative leadership for men's and women's golf and baseball. He also assisted with administrative leadership roles with the football and men's basketball programs and was instrumental in the fostering the current apparel and equipment contract with Nike.
Enhancing the fan experience goes hand-in-hand with supporting student-athlete success, and the opening of Hancock Stadium, Redbird fans will enjoy a facility focused on the latest in comfort and service.
Arriving on campus during the construction of Redbird Arena (opening in 1989), Lyons has also had leadership roles in several major facility construction and renovation projects, including the Kaufman Football Building (2000), the Owen Strength and Conditioning Center (2005), the Hancock Stadium turf replacement (2007), video scoreboard installations in Redbird Arena and Hancock Stadium (2007), the Gregory Street Tennis Courts (2008), the Redbird Arena Media Room (2010), the Redbird Arena Video Production Suite (2010), and the Franke Family men's basketball locker room (2012).
Besides Hancock, current projects under construction include the volleyball locker room in Redbird Arena and the Jim and Carole Mounier Golf Training Center. Lyons' involvement on campus has included a host of committees and task forces including his current efforts with the Campus Master Plan committee.
Lyons has also had a hand in the Hancock Stadium renovation, which is scheduled to be finished for the first home football game on Sept. 21. The renovations give a new front door to the ISU campus and Bloomington-Normal community. Besides benefiting the community, the renovations to Hancock Stadium will give Redbird fans a new experience on game days, while improving competitive opportunities and providing room for future growth.
As the landscape of college athletics becomes more complex and challenging, Lyons will continue to bring people and resources together to keep Redbird Athletics a model for success which other programs will continue to emulate.
Lyons earned a bachelor's degree from Illinois in 1978 and a second bachelor's degree in accounting from Illinois State in 1986. Lyons and his wife, Maureen reside in Normal, Ill. They have two grown children: daughter Kristin, a speech therapist at a children's hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and son Matt, who has followed in his father's footsteps and currently serves as Assistant Athletics Director for Development at Illinois State.