Athletic Director Lonnie Folks Announces Retirement: A Legacy of Impact and Ƶ

Folks leaves behind a rich tradition of merit, camaraderie, and a stronger, united Ƶ family

The Ƶ University community announces the retirement of esteemed athletic director Lonnie Folks. A St. Louis native and Ƶ alumnus of the John E. Simon School of Business, Lonnie Folks ’82, ‘98, was named the director of athletics and recreation at Ƶ in February 2018.

Folks has served Ƶ and the Saints athletic community with distinction for nearly two decades. During his tenure at Ƶ, Folks rose through the ranks to become assistant director of athletics and head coach for women’s soccer and softball. He has secured four conference titles, two conference tournament titles and moved women’s soccer from a borderline club team to one that competes as an exemplary team to this day. He also served as the head women’s basketball coach and sports information director, confirming his transformative leadership has reshaped the landscape of Ƶ athletics.

“As we take a moment to honor the remarkable journey of Lonnie Folks, we are reminded of the power of dedication, leadership, and his transformative role in athletics by shaping the lives of our students,” states Dr. Mark Lombardi, president of Ƶ University. “Lonnie’s tenure has been nothing short of a golden era of mentorship, growth, and community building at Ƶ. His relentless pursuit of excellence, both on and off the field, has not only uplifted our athletic programs but also fostered an environment of access and opportunity where our students could excel academically and personally. As he steps into retirement, I want to express our deepest gratitude on behalf of the entire university community for his unwavering service.”

His tenure is marked not just by achievements on the field but also the profound and lasting relationships he built along his journey. “The relationships that I built along the way were important and the fact that I’ve been asked to not just attend weddings of the former athletes, but I was actually a part of the wedding party in more than one,” says Folks.

While accolades and victories are a testament to a successful career, it’s the lives touched and transformed that resonate in Folks’ legacy. Reflecting on one such transformative journey that supports Ƶ’s mission into access and opportunity, he mentioned, “I think about one student-athlete here who came in as a borderline student academically and not only excelled on the playing field but also received a master’s degree from the university.”

“Ƶ would like to thank Lonnie for his many years of service as both a beloved alumnus and employee here at Ƶ,” says Raphaella Prange, vice president of student life. “During his tenure, Lonnie has been an established difference-maker for Ƶ athletics, leading the creation of several programs and facilities. We are so excited to celebrate him as he moves into the next phase of his connection with Ƶ, as a mentor and as a retiree.”

Looking forward to the robust foundation laid for the future, Folks expressed pride in the current and future state of the athletic program, the coaching staff in place and the academic success that Ƶ’s student-athletes continue to achieve. As Ƶ bids farewell to a leader who has truly left Ƶ better than it was upon arrival, it is done with heartfelt gratitude for a legacy that will continue to inspire generations of athletes and leaders for years to come.

Ƶ will be announcing a succession plan within the next few days.

Lonnie Folks Ƶ University Athletics Director

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