Sanders began work in the NNU intercollegiate athletic program in 1991 and was named athletic director in 2002.
"We deeply appreciate Rich Sanders’ contribution to the university," said David Alexander, NNU president. "NNU athletics has benefited from his two decades of service."
In addition to 10 years as athletic director, Sanders served as assistant men’s basketball coach and sports information director until 1997, when he assumed leadership of the program. In 2002 he was promoted to athletic director. Sanders led Crusader basketball to national tournament appearances in the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 seasons. Sanders’ 1997-1998 team tied the school record with 27 victories. He served on the NCAA Division II Men’s National Basketball Committee beginning in 2007, and in 2008 Sanders became the national chairman for that committee.
NNU is a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, which is comprised of 10 NCAA Division II schools. The university joined the conference in 2001 for the benefits it provides student-athletes. NCAA Division II provides athletically gifted students an opportunity to compete at a high level while encouraging them to maintain a traditional collegiate undergraduate experience, balancing academics and community involvement.
"While we are personally and professionally saddened by Rich’s departure, we are also excited to see what God has in store for him in the future," said NNU Assistant Athletic Director Craig Stensgaard. "As a coach and administrator, Rich has served as a mentor to many of us, and his steady demeanor and leadership have exemplified what we should all strive to achieve."
Sanders stepped down Monday, July 2. University officials plan to begin a national search next week.
--Northwest Nazarene University