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July 7, 2021

Waxahachie, TX I Andrew Hurst

The Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) recently selected Dr. Jesse Godding, SAGU Athletic Director, as the conference’s “Athletic Director of the Year” (ADOY).

“This much-deserved recognition demonstrates the high level of respect Dr. Godding has at the conference level, but he is also respected as a key leader within the larger National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. SAGU is blessed to have this capable leader guiding our varsity athletic programming!” – Dr. Kermit Bridges, SAGU President

This is the second time that Dr. Godding has received the ADOY after first receiving the award in 2014. He explains that this recognition is especially meaningful to him due to the selection process. The ADOY is awarded to whoever receives the highest number of votes from athletic directors in the SAC.

“Everyone takes a certain satisfaction knowing their peers are validating your work in their midst,” says Dr. Godding. “It is also special because you recognize that there are individuals who are more deserving among your peers at the conference level, and you were chosen.”

Dr. Godding has faithfully served SAGU since leading the university’s football team as Head Coach from 2002 to 2014, winning a conference championship and conference Coach of the Year honors in 2013. He stepped into the role of the university’s Athletic Director in 2011, and then still led the Lions onto the gridiron as Head Coach for three more seasons.

During his tenure as Director of Athletics at SAGU, the institution has added eight sports, seen a 100% growth in the number of athletes on the campus, and demonstrated continued improvement in athletic and academic excellence. Now, Dr. Godding oversees an athletic program consisting of 15 sports competing in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) and nationally affiliated with the National Athletic Intercollegiate Association (NAIA) and National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).

Jesse Godding, Ed.D.
Jesse Godding, Ed.D.

He also serves the SAC as a member of the Conference Executive Committee and the Athletic Director liaison for football. At the NAIA level, Dr. Godding functions as a member of the National Administrative Council, Athletic Director liaison for NAIA football, Chair of NAIA Football National Selection Committee, and is a member of the NAIA Athletic Directors Association Board of Directors.

For more than a decade, Dr. Godding has enjoyed coupling his passion for sports with his natural abilities as a leader and communicator.

“I believe that God has gifted me with some administrative skill, and I have worked to accentuate those giftings as much as possible. I don’t have an ego about the athletic department’s success and would really prefer if others receive the credit. To that end, I enjoy helping others succeed and being in the background. That is fulfilling.”

Reflecting on this award, he mentioned that many individuals have inspired him and helped shape his career in athletics. There are three influences he wanted to mention specifically:

  • “The SAGU Administration, in particular President Bridges and Vice President for Student Development, Terry Phipps, have been extremely supportive of the athletic department in my tenure as athletic director. I believe they bought into the vision of what I thought athletics could become, and that has projected our athletics forward.”
  • “When I first became an athletic director, Dr. Greg Feris, who is now retired from Wayland Baptist, and Jim Abbott, current athletic director at Oklahoma City, were mentors who guided me through the conference and national landscape.”
  • “Currently, there are many of my peers that I serve with at the conference and national level that I deeply respect for what they have been able to accomplish and I find myself  constantly asking questions of them to see how they accomplish different aspects of this job.”

Looking toward the future, Dr. Godding is excited about the continued growth of SAGU’s athletic programs. More importantly, he believes that the university has the opportunity to point more students and community members to Christ through the medium of athletics.

“The distinguishing characteristic of SAGU Athletics is an ongoing intentional desire to see spiritual formation take place in student-athlete lives. God has given us great men and women who serve the institution as coaches and “pastors” of their teams to accomplish this task. This is important because someday, the ball stops bouncing, you take the shoulder pads off, and you put the uniform on for the last time. But the spiritual lessons learned at SAGU will follow you for the remainder of your days.” – Dr. Jesse Godding, SAGU Athletic Director

As a leading Christian university, SAGU educates and prepares individuals who want to serve Christ and others. SAGU helps students discover and develop their callings in a Spirit-empowered, learning community.

We believe in affordable tuition, made possible in part through the financial support of donors who embrace the mission of SAGU and the importance of affordable, accredited programs to train Christians for leadership in ministry, business, education, and service.

Most majors are available in-person in Waxahachie, TX, and online through a wide range of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

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