July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Presidential message

Having worked tirelessly on behalf of Creighton for more than four decades, Creighton University McCormick Endowed Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen today announced his plans to retire from his position. His last day of employment will be Aug. 16.

I wanted to extend my sincere gratitude to Bruce for his years of service to our University, as a coach, administrator, and mentor to Creighton coaches and student-athletes. 

In his 27 years as athletics director, Creighton has risen to national prominence with its success inside and outside the lines of athletic competition. We have won conference titles, graduated outstanding young women and men, built new facilities for nearly every sports program, and celebrated record-breaking fundraising campaigns. 

Over the past 16 months, Bruce has been instrumental in guiding the athletic department through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its cancelations, postponements, and additional safety protocols. He established the Bluejays Persevere initiative, in which 50% of men’s basketball season ticket holders donated all or a portion of the costs of their 2020-2021 season tickets to Creighton Athletics. 

Even in these unprecedented circumstances, Creighton’s athletic teams excelled. This past season, the men’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1974, and the volleyball team earned its ninth straight NCAA Tournament berth.

Under Bruce’s guidance, Creighton has won 43 regular-season and 43 conference tournament titles and appeared in 90 postseason tournaments. He fostered Creighton’s success in the Missouri Valley Conference, and he played a major role in Creighton’s entrance into the BIG EAST Conference in March 2013. 

Creighton’s reputation as one of the nation’s top academic institutions is reflected in the achievements Bluejay student-athletes have had in the classroom during Bruce’s time as athletics director. Creighton’s baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, women’s golf, women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s tennis teams all have received national awards for their academic accomplishments. 

Bruce’s work has been recognized nationally. In 2019, he became Division I’s first four-time recipient of the Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year Award (an honor he also received in 2004, 2010, and 2015), and he received the 2019 Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award from the Division I-AAA Athletic Directors Association. In addition, he served a five-year term on the highly-esteemed NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee, serving as its chairman in his final year in 2018.

Locally, Bruce served as a member of the College World Series of Omaha Inc. Executive Committee, playing a vital role in Creighton and the city of Omaha remaining as hosts of the College World Series. He was one of six individuals on the CWS Oversight Committee that helped select the location for the new downtown TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.

Creighton’s primary annual athletics fundraising events, the Bluejay Bash and Bluejay Jamboree, have provided significant support for Creighton Athletics under Bruce’s leadership. In 2018, the Jamboree raised nearly $250,000 for the establishment of the Bruce and Jill Rasmussen Family Athletic Endowed Scholarship, honoring the family’s longtime commitment to Creighton Athletics and providing scholarship support for outstanding Bluejay student-athletes. In 2019, Janie and Harry Hoch Jr. established the first position-specific endowment for men’s basketball, with the Janie & Harry Hoch, Jr. Family Point Guard Endowed Scholarship.

In 2012, through the generosity of longtime Creighton supporters Ruth and Bill Scott, the University opened the Rasmussen Center student recreation facility, named in Bruce’s honor. When I began my tenure as Creighton president in 2015, I asked Bruce to join the President’s Council, and his leadership has been invaluable and respected by administrators, faculty, and students.

As Creighton’s head women’s basketball coach from 1980-1992, Bruce led his teams to a then-program record for wins, guiding them to an overall record of 196-147 while earning Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors. In 1992, Bruce accepted the associate athletics director position before being named athletics director in August 1994. In 2017, the position became the McCormick Endowed Athletic Director, through the generous support of Creighton benefactors Mary Pat and Richard McCormick.

Prior to coming to Creighton, Bruce was a successful high school basketball coach in Iowa for nine years. All told, he has been participating in the lives of student-athletes, in some capacity or another, for a half a century – creating an incredible legacy of success, revealed in the lives of those he has touched.

My colleagues and I thank Bruce for his distinguished service and commitment to Creighton University and Creighton Athletics over these past 41 years, and we are excited to celebrate with him, his wife, Jill, and their family in the months ahead. 

In the coming weeks, I will launch a national search for the University’s next athletics director, moving as expeditiously yet comprehensively as possible. Creighton Athletics is in an incredible place because of the work of Bruce Rasmussen, and I am confident our future is bright.

Go Bluejays!

Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD