More than an interim

Teri Mariani has never run away from a challenge in her 35-year career at Portland State.

Teri Mariani has never run away from a challenge in her 35-year career at Portland State.

Mariani encountered her greatest challenge this year as she took over the interim athletic director position for 15 months after Tom Burman’s departure in January 2006. Like usual, she stepped up and worked long hours to “keep the athletic department afloat.”

Before PSU President Daniel Bernstine approached Mariani about taking the interim athletic director position, she was living a quiet, tranquil life. Mariani had recently resigned as the softball coach after 29 years at the helm, and was enjoying her reduced role. However, her loyalty to Viking athletics once again outweighed her personal agenda, as Mariani, a former three-sport athlete, accepted Bernstine’s offer.

“Viking athletics has been my life. Portland State has given me such a great opportunity over the years that I feel I owe so much back. I just feel it’s my way of giving back,” Mariani said. “The schedule was very rigorous, especially the first four or five months. The hours were almost insane.”

When Mariani decided to accept the position, her first order of business was to ensure the athletic department continued to evolve. She wanted to stray from an attitude of idleness and stagnation.

“As an interim athletic director, I was limited in what I could do as far as hiring, but I tried to do as good a job as I could to keep the program moving forward,” Mariani said.

Like every athletic director, Mariani had her own philosophy about what was best for Portland State athletics.

“I was trying to be a little more global, focusing on all programs, not just the major ones,” Mariani said. “I tried to look after more of the smaller sports like soccer, golf, track and field, and wrestling. I tried to give those sports more attention than most would, because I know they don’t usually get it.”

During her time in the athletic director’s office, Mariani had several accomplishments that she said she believes will significantly further Viking athletics.

Her most prominent achievement was hiring former NFL and college head coach Jerry Glanville as the successor to football coach Tim Walsh only weeks before her reign was complete. Glanville’s hire infused excitement and interest into Portland State athletics, as the Viking name appeared in newspapers across the nation and ticket sales skyrocketed.

“Hiring Jerry Glanville was a nice way to go out,” Mariani said. “If you are talking about leaving a legacy, everyone will always remember who hired Jerry. It’s something that will be in the record books.”

Establishing a partnership with 910 AM KTRO in late April is another advancement Mariani said she believes will benefit Viking athletics for years to come. The station works with the Viking Media Department and broadcasts athletic events, complete with pre- and post-game shows.

“Having a radio station will really allow us to get our name out there. At the time, we didn’t have any stations interested in us, so I was very worried about that,” Mariani said. “KTRO has been very good to us, and it has been an excellent partnership. So I’m definitely pleased with how that has gone.”

Steven Ascher, head tennis coach, was Mariani’s first hire as the interim athletic director last July. Assembling his squad over the past 11 months, Ascher said he feels the tennis team has a lot of promise in its first year, and Mariani said she feels the coach will also thrive.

“I am very excited about that hire. I think he is a good one who will get this program off to a great start,” Mariani said.

Mariani appears to have accomplished a lot during her 15-month stint as the interim athletic director and much more after spending more than half of her life as a Viking. She is viewed as a legend at Portland State, one many members of the athletic department are glad to have around.

“Teri Mariani is awesome,” head volleyball coach Jeff Mozzochi said. “She accepted a very difficult situation. I thought, day in and day out, she was trying to put out brushfires around the athletic department. In general, I thought she did a terrific job.”

With Michael “Torre” Chisholm assuming the athletic director position May 1, Mariani is now the special assistant to the athletic director, a position with an array of duties.

“We really don’t know what my duties will be at this point. But I will do whatever Torre needs me to do,” Mariani said.