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Wesleyan AD Hart to announce retirement Wednesday

Curt Hart will announce his retirement Wednesday after seven-plus years at the helm of the Dakota Wesleyan University athletics department. Hart, 67, is an Alexandria resident who was hired to take the top position in the DWU athletics department...

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Dakota Wesleyan Athletic Director Curt Hart talks to fans while attending DWU's spring game last Thursday at DWU's practice field. (Matt Gade/Republic)

Curt Hart will announce his retirement Wednesday after seven-plus years at the helm of the Dakota Wesleyan University athletics department.

Hart, 67, is an Alexandria resident who was hired to take the top position in the DWU athletics department in February 2009. Dakota Wesleyan is holding a press conference at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Sherman Center on campus to recognize Hart’s work.

Hart listed “the demands of the job” as his reason for his resignation from the position. His retirement is effective June 1.

“I think the program is in a really good position right now,” he said Tuesday. “When you leave something, you always want to leave it better than it was before you arrived.”

Hart said he plans to still be involved with some aspects of Dakota Wesleyan athletics, including fundraising efforts for the athletic department. He explained he needs to step away from the day-to-day operations of the athletic director position.

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“Right now, there are some things I just feel guilty if I’m not at,” he said.

In a statement, DWU President Amy Novak said Hart “has fundamentally transformed the landscape of DWU athletics.”

“The performance of our teams is stronger than at any time in our history. Curt’s leadership has assisted in the successful opening of new facilities to support student athletes, a robust engagement of our community in Wesleyan athletics, and Curt’s focus on academic performance of student athletes has yielded record levels of NAIA All-Americans.

“He has been a coach’s coach, a student’s mentor, and a leadership colleague who provides valued input and wisdom. DWU is a stronger institution because of Curt Hart.”

Perhaps Hart’s greatest achievement at DWU was helping coordinate the addition of the $10.7 million health new health and wellness center, which broke ground on campus in September 2014. The facility had its official opening earlier this year.

Hart said for many years he wanted to get the athletic facility built before he retired. The facility includes an indoor track, wrestling room, exercise equipment and multipurpose sport courts. It measures a little under 90,000 square feet and sits across the street from DWU’s campus, on the south side of Norway Avenue.

Hart worked with administration, donors and contractors to make the project a reality, according to DWU’s athletic website.

“That year it was announced that we were going to build it and it was going to take 14 months, I honestly felt like I might pull the trigger before that, but I didn’t,” he said. “Amy wanted me to stick on until we got it built, and then I finished out this year.”

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DWU’s athletes previously shared space at the Christen Family Athletic Center, which Hart said was overused.

According to DWU’s website, Hart was also credited with reviving TeamMakers, which is DWU’s athletic booster club tasked with raising money used for athletic scholarships. With Hart’s help, the TeamMakers have revived several key fundraisers, including a Final Four party in April and a golf tournament in May.

Hart’s first hire when he became athletic director at DWU was women’s basketball coach Jason Christensen.

“Curt has done so much for me personally and professionally,” Christensen said in a statement. “I can’t thank him enough for that and for what he’s been able to do for DWU. His impact here will go far beyond his retirement.”

Hart and his wife, Kelly, have two children, Jon and Amanda, who both attended Dakota Wesleyan. Jon played football and baseball for the university and is now DWU’s associate athletic director/athletic development officer. Amanda played basketball for the Tigers and is now the director of basketball operations under Amy Williams at the University of Nebraska.

Related Topics: DAKOTA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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