JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The interim tag has come off, as Dr. Richard Sander will remain on as the full-time director of athletics at East Tennessee State University, the school announced Monday.

Sander is beginning his second stint as the Bucs’ AD, after serving in the role from 2013 to 2017. He had also been serving as the interim AD since August of 2022.

The leader of the athletic department will be remaining the same, but same does not equal stagnant.

“The landscape of college athletics is more unsettled now than we begin the work prior,” ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland said in a press conference. “It’s because of that, I feel we as an institution need stable and proactive leadership.”

By all accounts, Sander is that guy.

He helped to revive the football program back in 2015 and was instrumental in bringing William B. Greene Jr. Stadium to life. Sander also helped create the Global Sport Leadership program on campus and later joined on as program director.

Even for some of the newest coaches in Johnson City, Sander has been a leader who they say has created an environment of support and excitement.

“He listens well – he understands the issues and he asks great questions,” ETSU women’s basketball coach Brenda Mock Brown said. “I think he’s made me think harder about certain situations in women’s basketball, even in this three to four months.”

Sander had just taken over in the interim position when Mock Brown was hired late this summer to fill the void left by Simon Harris’ departure.

“He’s been so supportive – he’s excellent, he’s intelligent, he knows how to navigate the landscape of college athletics, which is ever-changing right now,” Mock Brown added. “I have full confidence he’s going to do a great job.”

“He wants to be successful just like we do,” ETSU football coach George Quarles explained. “He’s trying to do everything he can to give us the resources to be successful and just to, you know, lend his support.”

“Knowing Doc and his commitment to ETSU and our football program, especially – I’m excited that today is happening.”

Both Quarles and Mock Brown were also pleased to have a familiar face filling the position.

“Doc’s consistency and obviously his familiarity with the athletic department and the community’s familiarity with him will bode well for such a time as this,” Mock Brown said. “At this time in ETSU Athletics history, he is the perfect man for the job.”