When Tom Burman announced he was moving on to a VP position at his alma mater Wyoming just a few weeks ago the Portland State athletic department had a crucial decision to make. Just whom would they select to succeed Burman as athletic director? While the decision was vital for the future of the athletic department, it actually wasn’t very difficult. There was only one person who would be able to step into an important administrative position on short notice and during the middle of the year, and that person was Teri Mariani.
Mariani is a former Portland State athlete, coach and athletic administrator. She personifies a true Portland State Viking, being loyal to her alma mater whenever she is called on even if it means making changes to her daily lifestyle.
Her journey at Portland State started as a three-sport student-athlete and went on to more impressive titles and positions as the years went by. Mariani has remained at Portland State and has seen its evolution from a Division II school to a member of the Big Sky Conference in 1996.
“I started at Portland State in 1970 as a student,” Mariani said. “I played volleyball, basketball and softball. Right after graduation I started working here as the head softball coach and an assistant for the volleyball and basketball teams.”
Mariani worked as an assistant coach for the volleyball and basketball teams for several seasons until she began to pursue other positions in athletic administration.
“I slowly dropped out of the assistant coaches positions and started in athletic administration,” Mariani said. “I was just dibbling and dabbling in different areas of athletics. By the late ’80s I became the associate athletic director. Since then I have served a couple of times as the interim athletic director.”
Although she may have traded her assistant coaching titles for administrative positions in the athletic department, Mariani never gave up the head coaching position for the softball team that she received after graduating from Portland State until last season. She spent 29 years at the helm of the softball team, maturing from a young adult directly out of college to a Portland State institution along the way.
“I have done just about every job here,” Mariani said. “I love this campus. I just think it’s a great place to be and the people you get to work with understand that we are unique and have to work together in order to be successful, and that’s not just in athletics but across the whole campus. I just love being together. Every day brings new challenges.”
Mariani certainly has a unique outlook on going to work every day. The majority of the working population perceives work as a mandatory task that they are forced to do. She doesn’t go to work every day necessarily because she has to. Instead she goes to work for the experience. Along with the idea of working for an experience, Mariani is extremely loyal to Portland State and would do anything in her power to help benefit the school.
“In the timeline that President Bernstein sent out it looks like [the interim position] is going to be through fall quarter next year,” Mariani said. “I am just here until he tells me that he has someone else. When the president asks you to do something, unless you have a good reason not to, you do it.”
Mariani may only expect to be the interim athletic director until next year when the position is filled and she returns to her former job, but she stresses that the athletic department isn’t idle with Burman’s resignation.
“We’re not just going to toe the line here. We plan to continue to move forward and make ourselves better,” Mariani said. “That is our goal because we aren’t just going to bide the time until the new person comes on board. The biggest message that I wanted to get out there is that nothing is changing. We are still striving to improve. That plan doesn’t change just because a name has changed.”