Nate Burton now owns a more streamlined job title — and Burton couldn’t be happier.
Outgoing West Virginia State President Brian Hemphill, who becomes the new president at Radford University in July, removed the “interim” tag from Burton’s role as the Yellow Jackets’ athletic director. The Charleston Catholic graduate is now WVSU’s full-fledged AD.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It truly is amazing to be part of this athletic department. I’m honored, I’m humbled and I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”
State named Burton, who came to WVSU as the school’s director of development in September 2014, interim AD in January, after then-AD Sean Loyd stepped down to focus his energies as the Yellow Jackets’ head baseball coach. Loyd had been West Virginia State’s athletic director since 2008.
In the short term, Burton said he’d like to see each of State’s student-athletes carry at least a 3.0 grade-point average, to positively impact the surrounding community, and to compete for Mountain East Conference and NCAA titles.
“We want our students to develop academically, to develop socially and also win championships,” Burton said. “And it’s my job and our job to give our student athletes the resources they need to succeed in all three of those areas.”
Acquiring the funds to provide those resources has been Burton’s mission throughout his career in college athletics. The former four-year starter on the Washington & Jefferson men’s basketball team has been a graduate assistant with Marshall University’s Big Green Scholarship fund, worked in the Clemson athletic department’s IPTAY Scholarship Fund, was assistant director for external relations in athletics at High Point University in North Carolina and the assistant director for athletic development at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Those skills should help Burton achieve his long-term goals of upgrading many of State’s athletic facilities. The university already opened a new football building and basketball arena since 2014, and Burton wants to see further improvements. Switching Lakin Field, the football team’s home field, to artificial turf is among his aspirations. But Burton isn’t looking solely at the football field for upgrades, and he sees needs in softball, baseball, football and tennis.
“We need a lot of turf to come to Institute, West Virginia,” he said. “Long term, we’re going to look at ways of improving all our facilities.”
The 29-year-old Burton has wanted a career in college athletics since he was a college athlete himself. When he took the interim post, he said he wouldn’t treat it like an interim job. And he’s ecstatic that he’s now in the role on a permanent basis.
“It’s so easy to wake up in the morning and come to work,” he said. “I don’t view it as a job. I’m so lucky to be in the position I’m in.”