Considering the stability that the George Fox athletic department has enjoyed for nearly three decades under Craig Taylor, it's not surprising that the Bruins would turn to one of their own when it came time find a new athletic director.
The university announced last month that 2004 graduate and current board of trustees member Adam Puckett will succeed Taylor, who will step down at the end of the month after 43 years of service to his alma mater.
Like Taylor, Puckett is a former GFU student athlete, having specialized in the long and triple jumps for the track team in the early 2000s, but professionally he comes from a very different background. Taylor was a coach and professor at GFU for over a decade before becoming athletic director, while Pucket is a Certified Public Accountant.
Puckett arrives from Delap, a Portland-based accounting and advisory firm where he was a partner and worked the last 13 years. He was also given George Fox's Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award in 2014.
"I'm just really excited about what he's going to bring," Taylor said. "He's a very strategic and creative thinker. When we make decisions about what we're doing at the university, they need to be data driven and research driven. Adam absolutely has excellent skills in that area, so he brings a set of skills for the next chapter that are going to serve us very well."
Puckett, who still ranks No. 4 on the school's all-time lists in the long jump and triple jump, closed out his athletic career by placing seventh at the NCAA Division III National Championships and earning All-American honors his senior year.
A native of Longview, Wash., who was raised in Bend, Puckett said he never felt compelled to pursue athletics administration until the opportunity at his alma mater came up. It was the opportunity to serve at George Fox, more than the athletics aspect, that really drew him to the job.
"I truly believe in the mission and values of this university," Puckett said. "From my time as a student-athlete, to my time as a member of the board of trustees, it is evident that George Fox lives its values, putting students first and Christ in everything. It is a dream come true for me to return home to George Fox University to be the next director of athletics."
Puckett has remained active at the university since graduating with bachelor's degrees in business administration and accounting. In addition to serving on the school's board of trustees, he has worked the past year and a half as an adjunct professor teaching corporate tax classes.
Puckett said he realizes that it may sound strange to people to hire an accountant for athletics administration, but the work he's done has gone far beyond the bean counting that most people picture.
"The reality is that my time at Delap gave me the opportunity to be part of hundreds of companies, study countless industries, and sit with executives from all over the Northwest," Puckett said. "It has given me ample experience that will cross over to the task of running the athletic department.
"Most importantly, my experiences have taught me the value and importance of relationship, collaboration, vision casting, accountability, developing others, and leadership. All of these traits will be vital in this new role."
In addition to becoming Delap's youngest employee to make partner, at 30, Puckett founded an entrepreneurial business service, Revmode, and served on a strategic advisory board of CCH, the leading provider of account and tax software in the world.
"Adam excelled in the interview process and, as a former George Fox athlete, he showed a deep understanding of the mission and passion for furthering the development of all of our athletic programs," George Fox President Robin Baker said. "He proved that he is not a person who just counts numbers. He loves people, loves the Lord and understands the important role that sports can play at a Division III university."
Puckett will take over a robust and, for the most part, thriving athletic department and doesn't plan to reinvent the wheel. The Bruins set a school record by winning four Northwest Conference titles — in men's and women's track, women's golf and women's lacrosse — in a single season this past spring.
In his tenure, Taylor expanded the department to include 17 sports (nine women's and eight men's), and it will expand again to add men's and women's swimming in 2018.
"Adam understands that the impact of athletics at George Fox goes beyond the extraordinary efforts of our student-athletes," vice president for student life Brad Lau said. "It shapes the experience of all of our students and community members, and we are excited to have Adam leading this important area within the university. He wants athletics to make a positive contribution to the entire George Fox community as a vital part of our 'Be Known' promise to students."