skip to main content
Heartland mobile logo

Ryan Knox named as Athletic Director of the Year by NACDA

March 16, 2022

Ryan Knox of Heartland Community College has been named an Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). 

The Cushman & Wakefield AD of the Year Award spans seven divisions (NCAA FBS, FCS, Division I-AAA, II, III, NAIA/Other Four-Year Institutions and Junior College/Community Colleges). Knox is one of only four Junior or Community College Athletic Directors to be recognized this year. 

"Under Ryan’s leadership Heartland Athletics has seen unprecedented success for our students, both in competition and in the classroom,” said Sarah Diel-Hunt, Heartland Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services. “Over the last two years, Ryan led the department through an expansion from four to nine sports, adding women’s and men’s cross country, women’s volleyball, men’s golf and Esports. To say the expansion has been a success is an understatement. This year student athletes set records for team and athletic department GPA. Additionally, all four Fall sports teams qualified for their national championship tournaments with men’s cross country finishing third in the nation, women’s cross country placing second and the women’s soccer winning the first National Championship in the history of the program. Clearly the recognition of the NACDA, which is the highest honor an athletic director can receive, is well deserved.”       

Knox has been at Heartland since 2006. While at Heartland he held multiple roles serving as baseball coach from 2008-2013. Since 2013 he has served in the position of Director of Athletics & Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC).   

All NACDA-member directors of athletics in the United States, Canada and Mexico who met the criteria were eligible for the award. Among the criteria were service as an AD for a minimum of five academic years; demonstration of commitment to higher education and student-athletes; continuous teamwork, loyalty and excellence; and the ability to inspire individuals or groups to high levels of accomplishments. 

Nominators were NACDA-member directors of athletics, institutional presidents and conference commissioners, as well as other respected intercollegiate athletics administrators. Special Divisional Selection Committees composed of current and former directors of athletics, current and former commissioners and other key athletics administrators voted on nominees for the award. A complete listing of Selection Committee members can be found on NACDA's website at


Now in its 57th year, NACDA is the professional and educational Association for more than 22,000 college athletics administrators at more than 2,200 institutions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. NACDA manages 17 professional associations and four foundations. In addition to virtual programming, NACDA hosts five major professional development events in-person annually. The NACDA & Affiliates Convention is the largest gathering of collegiate athletics administrators in the country. For more information, visit

Written by: Steve Fast