Home of Champions inductee Theresa Hanson set another milestone this week becoming the first female Athletics Director (AD) in Simon Fraser University history.
Hanson, daughter of Bill and Lola Hanlon of Trail, becomes the sixth athletics and recreation director in the history of Simon Fraser University and the first female to lead the 17 Clan varsity sports programs. She joins the senior leadership team in Student Services providing strategic direction to varsity programs as well as the recreation programs and services for SFU’s 35,000 students at three campuses.
“I am incredibly excited to be given this opportunity,” said Hanson. “My ultimate goal will be to ensure we provide the best possible experience for our student-athletes, a wide range of campus recreation opportunities for the student body as a whole, and meaningful engagement with alumni.”
Hanson will begin her tenure as director on Dec. 14, returning to the university that helped launch her career in sports administration more than 25 years ago.
Tim Rahilly, SFU’s Associate Vice President, who led a diverse University committee to identify and screen potential candidates for the AD position, said it was important to find a director with common values and a deep commitment to success on and off the field. Hanson was a unanimous decision by the committee.
“I believe Theresa is a proven leader who is well-suited to provide strong oversight for our 17 varsity sports, our 400-plus student athletes, and our recreation programs at all three SFU campuses,” said Rahilly. “During the interview process I was impressed by her strategic thinking and her ability to combine sports, business and education in an effective and accountable way.”
Simon Fraser is Canada’s only university competing in NCAA and Hanson was instrumental in making that possible. While serving as Athletic Director at UBC, Hanson played an integral role in lobbying the NCAA to open its doors to Canadian institutions, a path that UBC ultimately decided against. But Hanson’s efforts created an opportunity for SFU to return to its athletics roots to compete against American competition after 10 years in CIS for a large number of its sports teams.
In 2010, Simon Fraser became the first and only international university in NCAA.
“I look forward to leading SFU Athletics and Recreation into its next chapter,” said Hanson. “Reaching new heights in terms of competitive success while also maintaining long-held traditions of excellence in academics and athletics.”
Hanson’s career in intercollegiate athletics – which has taken her to Lewis‐Clark State College, Simon Fraser, Langara College and UBC – began as assistant coach on the staff of Allison McNeill with the Clan from 1988 to 1990, after competing for the women’s basketball team at Lewis‐Clark State College (1982-86). The 1990 SFU women’s basketball team was the first basketball team – male or female – to qualify for a national championship tournament.
After coaching at SFU with McNeill while also working in the financial sector, Hanson became athletics director at Langara College, and in 2004, was recruited to UBC as associate athletic director. She was later promoted to director of athletics, operations and student-athlete services, where she was responsible for the overall direction and management of 29 varsity sports programs, coaches and department staff.
Hanson has held a number of prominent leadership roles within intercollegiate athletics, including most recently CIS Vice President, International, Canada West Vice President, Sport, and member of Canada West Board of Directors. In addition, Hanson has also held leadership positions for Canada internationally, serving as Chef de Mission of Team Canada at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia. She was also a member of Team Canada’s mission staff at the 2009 Summer Universiade in Serbia. In May, 2014, Hanson had the distinct honor of being inducted into the Greater Trail Home of Champions Registry celebrating her career in sport administration.
Hanson is married to UBC men’s basketball coach Kevin Hanson. They have one daughter, Jessica, a freshman on the UBC women’s basketball team.
Hanson graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in management technology and business from Lewis-Clark State College. She earned a Master’s Degree in sports science and sports administration from United States Sports Academy in Alabama in 2010.