By Larry Isch, Director of Public Relations Clarksville, Ark.-University of the Ozarks men's soccer coach Dave De Hart will become the new athletic director at the university, replacing Jack Jones, who is resigning his administrative duties to focus on coaching and to spend more time with his family.
The move will become effective July 1. Since coming to Ozarks in 1999, De Hart has led Ozarks’ soccer program to a 53-26-3 record, an ASC East Division championship and three consecutive trips to the American Southwest Conference postseason tournament. He was named the ASC East Division Coach of the Year in both 2000 and 2001. "I’m excited about this new challenge and getting into a new phase of athletics," said De Hart, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from La Salle University in Louisiana. "I think this position plays into my strengths of organization and attention to detail. Despite being the smallest university in the conference, Ozarks has proven it can be competitive in athletics and I’d like to continue to build on that success. I feel like I can provide a new and different energy, new ideas and new enthusiasm to the program." De Hart, a native of California who has more than 20 years of coaching experience, will continue to coach the men’s soccer program. "One of my goals when I got here was to prove that soccer could be a competitive sport at Ozarks and we did that," he said. "Now I want to show that we can have a strong all-around athletic program to go with our strong academics here. I want our student-athletes to be proud to be a part of this university." De Hart said among his priorities will be to build the athletic booster club in the community and to continue to improve facilities. "Dave De Hart has a comprehensive vision for the athletic department, and he will be an excellent athletic director," Ozarks President Dr. Rick Niece said. "We are fortunate to have someone as able as Dave to follow Jack." Jones, who has been the university’s top athletic administrator since 1987, will continue to coach women’s basketball and men’s golf at Ozarks. "After 16 years of doing both coaching and administrating, I felt like it was time to put my energy into my passion, which is coaching," said Jones, who has a 358-266 record in 24 seasons as head coach of the Lady Eagles. "I feel like we’ve been able to do some good things in the athletic department during the past 16 years, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. Now I can turn my full attention to my family and to coaching and let somebody else handle the administrative duties." Under Jones’ tenure as AD, Ozarks added or brought back several sports programs, including baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s tennis, women’s softball and men’s golf. He also oversaw the athletic program’s move from NAIA to NCAA Division III in the mid-1990s. "Career-altering decisions are never easy to make, and I have great admiration for Jack Jones and his sense of priorities," said Niece. "Jack has served Ozarks well as athletic director, and our program made tremendous strides under his leadership. His commitment to his family and wanting to spend more time with them says a lot about his list of priorities. I also know how much he loves coaching women’s basketball and now, with his primary focus on the team, watch out for Ozarks next year." Jones, a 1976 Ozarks graduate, was the NAIA District 17 Administrator of the Year in 1995 and earned conference coach of the year awards in 1994 and 1997. His 358 coaching victories rank him among the winningest active coaches in Division III. "In my role as AD I’ve been associated with some wonderful administrators at other schools as well as coaches here at Ozarks who have become good friends," Jones said. "But I’m most proud of the student-athletes who have come through the program the last 16 years. That’s been the most rewarding part of the job."