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Fort Lewis College athletic director Brandon Leimbach steps down

Leimbach accepts position at UC Irvine
Fort Lewis College Director of Athletics Brandon Leimbach is stepping down after accepting a position at the University of California, Irvine. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Fort Lewis College Director of Athletics Brandon Leimbach is moving on.

The college announced Monday that Leimbach has accepted a position at the University of California, Irvine as executive director of development, athletics in university advancement. Leimbach, a native of Southern California, will begin his new role in early May 2022.

“Brandon's positive attitude and tremendous work ethic allowed him to create a positive culture and serve as an excellent mentor across our diverse athletics staff,” said FLC President Tom Stritikus. “He has exceptional emotional intelligence and was always intrinsically motivated to advance our institutional goals while providing a world-class experience for our student-athletes. After speaking with Brandon in regard to his future aspirations, I believe that his fundraising acumen will serve him well at UCI, and I have no doubt that he will thrive in his new role as he returns home.”

During Leimbach’s time as director of athletics at FLC, the department has undergone notable transformations.

In his first academic year at FLC, Leimbach restructured the department to better align with modern NCAA Division II institutions by expanding the athletics administrative team and welcoming 19 new staff members. In fall 2019, he facilitated a partnership with Mercy Regional Medical Center to be the official sports medicine provider for FLC Athletics.

In 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, FLC Athletics raised $107,935 during its Giving Tuesday campaign, a major leap from the $6,005 raised in 2019. The department doubled the 2021 total this winter, raising $233,531 during the 2022 Giving Tuesday campaign.

Leimbach also played an instrumental role in securing funds for the Health Exercise Science facility, which broke ground in fall 2021. The facility will provide FLC Athletics with new women’s, visitors’ and officials’ locker rooms, a renovated lobby in Whalen Gymnasium and an auxiliary practice court beginning in the 2022-23 school year. FLC Athletics raised more dollars through major gifts and capital projects in the past three years than in any other three-year stretch in the history of the program.

In his first year in 2019-2020, eight programs increased their win totals from the 2018-19 seasons while 69 student-athletes earned a D2 Athletics Director Association Academic Achievement awards.

Additionally, the FLC women’s soccer team hosted its first home playoff game since 2013 last April. The FLC men’s basketball team hosted its first home playoff game since 2017-18 earlier this month, and Skyhawks’ softball returned to the RMAC Tournament last spring for the first time since 2014.

Aaron Champenoy, assistant athletic director for external relations since June 2021, will assume the interim director’s role when Leimbach departs for UCI on April 19.

The nationwide search for the Skyhawks permanent athletic director will begin immediately.