Following a national search, Northeastern State University has tabbed Matt Cochran as its Director of Athletics, according to Dr. Steve Turner, NSU President.
A veteran in the NSU Athletics Department for nearly a quarter-century, Cochran becomes just the seventh athletic director in school history and replaces Tony Duckworth who resigned in December of 2019. Cochran has been the interim AD on four separate occasions during his tenure, and was elevated from his position as the senior associate athletics director where he was responsible for compliance and internal operations.
“Matt has been and will be the best ambassador and advocate for student athletes,” Turner said. “Those that know him speak of his passion for NSU, his integrity and his clear understanding of NCAA Division II sports.”
Cochran, who has a Bachelor of Science (’86) and an MBA (‘91) from Northeastern, began his career at NSU in 1991 in Financial Aid where he was a counselor and scholarship coordinator. He briefly left NSU for American Airlines in Tulsa before returning to NSU in 1995. He was hired by Gil Cloud as the compliance coordinator in 1995 as Northeastern State began its transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II and has remained a fixture in the department since that time.
“I would like to thank President Turner, the NSU cabinet and the search committee for entrusting me with the opportunity to lead the Northeastern State University Athletics Department,” Cochran said. “I also want to thank the coaching staff and Athletics administrative staff for their input during the selection process. They were very candid and passionate about what characteristics they want from their Athletics director and what needs they have in their programs.
“I believe I have spent much of my professional life preparing for this opportunity and we will approach every day with the mindset of making this the best athletics program possible. Our student-athletes, coaches, alumni and fans deserve our very best.”
Though the majority of Cochran’s experiences are rooted in compliance and budgets, he was the driving force behind starting the annual NSU Golf Classic. Now in its 23rd year, this event has become the primary annual fundraising event for the department. He also assisted in the NSU Event Center naming rights campaign, where more than $500,000 was raised for furniture, fixtures and equipment when the facility was opened in 2014.
Cochran currently serves on the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer National Committee and MIAA Basketball Committee. He is a past member of the NCAA Division II Golf Regional Advisory Committee, chaired the Compliance Committee when NSU was a member of the Lone Star Conference, has been tournament director for numerous NCAA basketball, golf and tennis regionals NSU has hosted over the years, and began the NSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee where he was its advisor until 2018.
Despite being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cochran’s experience and leadership skills will offer stability to the department. However, he does have a progressive vision for NSU Athletics moving forward.
“We have very talented, committed student-athletes and a coaching staff that is extremely capable, student-focused and driven by standards of excellence,” Cochran said. “We must continue to give them the resources they need to be successful in athletics and academics, while preparing them for life after they earn their degree. We must be strategic and innovative in fundraising, be fiscally accountable and good stewards of our donors’ gifts, and generate consensus within our communities.
“We will continue building on the foundation established by former athletic directors D.M. ‘Doc’ Wadley, Dr. Jack Dobbins, Gil Cloud, Eddie Griffin, Jeff Konya and Tony Duckworth. We will commit ourselves, and the athletics department, to the philosophy that no other institution in NCAA Division II will outwork us.”
Cochran’s father, Bill, moved his family from Tulsa to Tahlequah in 1972 where he started the driver’s education program at NSU. Bill Cochran served as NSU’s baseball coach for several years before his passing in 1990, and was later inducted into the NSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Cochran’s wife, Teri, is the director of Student Financial Services at NSU.