Theresa Hanson first female athletics director at SFU
By Steve Frost
Theresa Hanson is Simon Fraser University’s new senior director of athletics and recreation.
She is the University’s sixth athletics and recreation director, and the first female to lead the 17 Clan varsity sports programs. She joins the senior leadership team in Student Services , which provides strategic direction to varsity programs as well as the recreation programs and services for SFU's 35,000 students at three campuses.
Hanson joins SFU from the University of British Columbia, where she held a leadership position in the athletics department for more than a decade.
“I am incredibly excited to be given this opportunity,” says Hanson. “My ultimate goal will be to ensure we provide the best possible experience for our student athletes, a wide range of campus recreation opportunities for the student body as a whole, and meaningful engagement with alumni.”
“I look forward to leading SFU Athletics and Recreation into its next chapter, reaching new heights in terms of competitive success while also maintaining long-held traditions of excellence in academics and athletics.”
Hanson will begin her tenure as athletic director on Dec. 14, returning to the university that helped launch her career in sports administration more than 25 years ago.
A native of Trail, B.C., Hanson succeeds Milton Richards, athletic director emeritus, who held the position during SFU’s transition into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) from Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).
Tim Rahilly, SFU's associate vice-president, students, led a diverse University committee to identify and screen potential candidates for the athletic director's position. He says it was important to find an athletic director with common values and a deep commitment to success on and off the field. The committee unanimously decided on Hanson.
"I believe Theresa is a proven leader who is well-suited to provide strong oversight for our 17 varsity sports, our 400-plus student athletes, and our recreation programs at all three SFU campuses," says Rahilly.
"During the interview process I was impressed by her strategic thinking and her ability to combine sports, business and education in an effective and accountable way."
Simon Fraser is Canada’s only university competing in NCAA and Hanson was instrumental in making that possible. While serving as athletic director at UBC she played an integral role in lobbying the NCAA to open its doors to Canadian institutions, a path that UBC ultimately did not pursue.
In 2010, Simon Fraser became the first and only international university in NCAA.
Hanson's career in intercollegiate athletics—which has taken her to Lewis‐Clark State College, Simon Fraser, Langara College and UBC—began as assistant coach on the staff of Allison McNeill with the Clan from 1988 to 1990, after competing for the women’s basketball team at Lewis‐Clark State College (1982-86). The 1990 SFU women’s basketball team was the first basketball team—male or female—to qualify for a national championship tournament.
After coaching at SFU with McNeill while also working in the financial sector, Hanson became athletics director at Langara College, and in 2004 was recruited to UBC as associate athletic director. She was later promoted to director of athletics, operations and student-athlete services, where she was responsible for the overall direction and management of 29 varsity sports programs, coaches and departmental staff.
Hanson has held a number of prominent leadership roles within intercollegiate athletics, including most recently CIS vice-president, international; Canada West Universities Athletic Association vice-president, sport; and member of Canada West Board of Directors. In addition, Hanson has also held leadership positions for Canada internationally, serving as chef de mission of Team Canada at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia. She was also a member of Team Canada's mission staff at the 2009 Summer Universiade in Serbia. In May, 2014, Hanson had the honour of being inducted into the Greater Trail Home of Champions Registry celebrating her career in sport administration.
Hanson is married to UBC men’s basketball coach Kevin Hanson. They have one daughter, Jessica, a freshman on the UBC women’s basketball team.
Hanson graduated with a bachelor of science degree in management technology and business from Lewis-Clark State College. She earned a master's degree in sports science and sports administration from United States Sports Academy in Alabama in 2010.