The Austin Independent School District has a new athletic director. Leal Anderson will oversee AISD sports programs that involve more than 14,000 students. Anderson says part of his mission is improving the academic success of students through the character development that happens in athletics.
"I think graduation will increase," Anderson said at a media availability Tuesday." I think the numbers of enrollment will also increase. We'll also have less students dropping out. Those are things that I think are really important, that will help. And that's what I look forward to doing."
Anderson comes from Anderson High School where he has taught technology and acted as head coach for the men's basketball team since 2004. Under his direction, the team set the school record for number of wins in a season for three years in a row. Last year, he was named outstanding coach by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.
Before his time at AISD, Anderson earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Oklahoma, where he played on the men's basketball team. He then worked as a programmer/analyst at National Instruments. In 2010, he earned a M.A. in Sports Management from the University of Texas. This diverse background is something Anderson plans to utilize in his new position.
"My number one goal as a coach was to be a living example for our players, and really, I want to be a leader like that for all of the student athletes that are in AISD. I think that if we can develop high character in all of those individuals, that's where the challenge lies," Anderson says.
Another challenge facing Anderson is the shortage of resources available after a bond that would have given the department $76 million failed to pass last May. In the future, Anderson says communication and an emphasis on partnership between athletics and academics will be key in ensuring funding for the department.
Anderson will finish coaching this basketball season and then will transition into the athletic director position during the following months. He replaces Tommy Cox who is retiring after 10 years in the position.