Tuesday, November 29, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Roberts leaving Cabot for AAA

Leader sports editor

After five and a half years at Cabot High School, athletic director Steve Roberts is stepping down to become an associate executive director for the Arkansas High School Activities Association. Roberts was one of two people hired to replace outgoing assistant executive director Wadie Moore, who has handled media relations and corporate sponsorships since 1994.

That hiring was voted on by the AHSAA board and announced Tuesday morning at the AHSAA offices in North Little Rock. It increases the number of associate executive directors from two to three, and Roberts will also assume Moore’s corporate sponsorship duties.

Derek Walter, a recent 2016 graduate of UCA, is the new assistant executive director, and will take over media relations.

As athletic director at Cabot, Roberts, 52, oversaw the building of many new athletic facilities, as well as multiple state championships in various sports. For the 2014-15 school year, he was named athletic director of the year for the state for Arkansas.

“It’s been a wonderful experience working at Cabot Public Schools,” said Roberts. I’m especially proud of the people I’ve had an opportunity to work with, and form some long-lasting relationships. We have an outstanding coaching staff and administrators that will do everything they can to help kids succeed. We’ve done a lot, facility wise, during those five and a half years; baseball and softball fields, new track, new press box and Panther Arena.

“We’ve won multiple state championships, but more importantly I’m proud of the relationships I’ve been able to develop. It’s been a great experience and I’m going to miss those daily working relationships.”

AHSAA executive director Lance Taylor said the hiring of two people to replace one outgoing staffer was an effort to strengthen the governing body’s ability to govern all sports and activities of Arkansas high schools.

“What we’re trying to do is fix things,” said Taylor. “It’s an effort to restructure our office to make us stronger to help our schools. (Roberts) will take some of what Wadie was doing as far as our corporate sponsorships, and he’ll also take over a couple of sports for us.”

Roberts was a football coach at the college level from 1994 until 2010. He took over at Southern Arkansas University in 1994 and was there until a two-year stint at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La.

He is mostly known in Arkansas for his nine-year run as head coach at Arkansas State University that began in 2002. In 2005, he took ASU to its first bowl game in 35 years, losing the New Orleans Bowl to Southern Miss 31-19.

Roberts said he wasn’t sure which sports he will oversee in his new position, but Taylor, while not saying anything definite, indicated that Roberts’ background will play a key role in determining one of them.

“I’m sure football is probably going to be one those sports,” Taylor said. “It’s right there in his wheelhouse. We’re excited about Steve and Derek. We think they’re both going to make us better. You have to change because times change. This will make us stronger where we think we’re kind of weak right now.”

Currently, deputy executive director Joey Walters is rules interpreter for basketball, golf, tennis and soccer. Associate executive director Don Brodell is over football, softball, baseball and wrestling.

Associate executive director Nick Laster is over volleyball, swimming and diving, cross country and track.