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O'Malley travels long way to new SETX home

Jeff O'Malley sits in his office overlooking the field at Provost-Umphrey Stadium. Image credit: Keagan Smith, UP sports editor.
Jeff O'Malley sits in his office overlooking the field at Provost-Umphrey Stadium. Image credit: Keagan Smith, UP sports editor.

Beaumont is 1,117.5 miles from Huntington, West Virginia. Despite the distance, and the two decades of history he left behind at Marshall University, Lamar’s new athletic director, Jeff O’Malley, is excited to make Southeast Texas his new home.

“You've been somewhere for 20 years, and kind of get ingrained in a comfort zone there,” he said. “But change is good, sometimes.

“It’s been a big change, but it's been a very positive change. We've settled in quite well. We’re buying a house, but we haven't moved in yet, so we're definitely looking forward to that. My daughter’s in high school here. My wife is finally here as well, which has been great.”

Taking a new job and moving halfway across the country would be a massive adjustment for anyone. However, O’Malley’s family embraced the opportunity for change when he applied for the Lamar job.

“I really didn't know what to expect,” he said. “My wife was positive and my daughter was positive as well. I think my son will probably tell you he got the best deal out of it all, because he got rid of us. He got to stay at Marshall and get a little bit more of a college experience.

“We've embraced it, and we've enjoyed it.”

O’Malley graduated from Miami University-Ohio in 1990 with an accounting degree. He then worked for a big accounting firm in New York City, which allowed him to connect with clients such as the New York Jets, the NCAA and the NBA. He credits those client connections as one of the reasons he eventually transitioned into athletics.

“I was also really involved in basketball growing up, and that turned into me refereeing,” he said. “I was a basketball official for 24 years, and that spurred on my love of athletics, too.

“I probably have a greater history (with) and the most understanding of basketball than I do others. But I don't like the labels of, ‘He's a basketball guy, or he's a football guy, or he's a soccer guy.’ We have 17 sports here. I have to be a champion for them all.”

In addition to his position as athletic director, O’Malley also serves as national Secretary Rules Editor for NCAA men’s basketball, a role he stepped into last July.

“It's a passion of mine,” he said. “It helps put Lamar into a positive light as well, because I get to be in a room with a lot of big coaches and basketball people. They know I work here, so I think it's a win-win for everybody.

“Rulemaking is kind of an outlet for me. I play golf a little bit as well. And watching my daughter play volleyball is another one.”

With all that he has on his plate as he guides Lamar sports into the Southland Conference, golf has been put on the back burner — for now.

Category: Sports