Updated as of March 22 at 8:44 p.m. to include comment from Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Jason Knavel.

After 17 years at Elon, the university announced Dave Blank, director of athletics, will step down from his role on March 22 at the conclusion of the academic year.

Blank began his role as director in 2006. Prior to Elon, he served as the director of athletics at Drake University from 2000 to 2006. He also served as the director of athletics at Coastal Carolina University in 2000 and the associate director of athletics there from 1996 to 1999.

Before working in administrative athletics, Blank also served as head coach for men’s basketball at Lock Haven University from 1988 to 1996. 

Blank helped Elon transition into the Colonial Athletic Association in the 2014-15 season.

Jason Knavel, associate athletic director for strategic communications, said he appreciates Blank’s passion and dedication to the role. 

“It was a little bit surprising … because he's still giving 110% to the job,” Knavel said. “So there was never any sign that he's slowing down.”

After arriving in May 2021, Knavel said that he admires the atmosphere of integrity and competitiveness that Blank created within the athletics department.

“I've seen a lot of athletic directors,” Knavel said. “I've seen a lot of different styles — a lot of different ways of leading an athletic department. I've really grown to appreciate Dave's leadership over two years.”

Elon President Connie Book announced Blank’s retirement from his role through an email sent to faculty, in which she also commended his leadership and management style.

“Blank has been a wise and steady leader who has modeled integrity and been a strong advocate for the traditional mission of intercollegiate athletics,” Book wrote in the email. “We are grateful for his dedication to the university and the thousands of students who have been involved in Phoenix sports.”

Throughout his time with the Phoenix, Blank has seen success on the field and inside the classroom for student-athletes. There has been a combined 87 conference championships by teams and individuals over his time at the university, and a leading graduation rate for athletes in the CAA — which stood at 97% last year.

This year in Elon Athletics, Blank has seen a mix of results from programs. The Elon football team went 5-0 at home and made an appearance in the FCS Playoffs. Men’s soccer won the CAA regular season championship outright, but lost in the final round to Hofstra University. The track and field team also won the inaugural CAA championship.

But both men’s and women’s basketball teams struggled this season with losing records and losses in the first round of the CAA championship tournament.

Blank has also fostered renovations and improvements in multiple university athletic facilities, such as the Schar Center, W. Cecil Worsley III Golf Training Center and Hunt Softball Park.

A recruiting committee will be created to find the university’s next director of athletics. Book wrote that Elon anticipates having a plan in place by early summer. 

As a colleague, Knavel said he will miss Blank’s personal connection with the Elon community and ability to manage a team.

“He's good at understanding when people need that kind of break or that little joke to break the stress, but also understanding when people can be pushed,” Knavel said. “So there's a balancing act there and I think he did a really good job with that.”  


Sophie Rosenthal contributed to the reporting of this story.