The University of Memphis has hired Manhattan native Laird Veatch to fill its athletics director vacancy.

Veatch played linebacker at Manhattan High and was a member of an undefeated team that won the state championship in 1988. He was a captain for the Indians as a senior. MHS started that season 1-3, but rallied to return to state title game, where it lost to Lawrence.

Veatch went on to become a four-year letterman for Bill Snyder’s K-State teams from 1990 to 1994 and was a captain as a senior. He was part of the the team for bowl trips in 1993 and 1994 and earned honorable mention all-league honors in his final season.

He returned to K-State in 2009 after seven years with Learfield Sports’ Heartland Division, where he served as regional vice president. In that position, Veatch was responsible for the oversight of eight Division I multimedia rights departments.

From 2010 to 2017, he worked in a variety of roles for K-State, including deputy athletics director and interim director of athletics.

Veatch has spent the last two years as the University of Florida’s executive associate athletics director for internal affairs. He is replacing Tom Bowen, who stepped down in May after holding the position for seven years. Allie Prescott had been Memphis’ interim athletic director since Bowen’s departure.

“Laird’s a perfect fit for the university and our city,” Memphis President M. David Rudd said Friday in a statement announcing the hire. “As a former student-athlete, he brings a unique perspective and a wealth of experience at some of the nation’s leading athletic departments, along with a strong vision for the future, a keen understanding of a rapidly changing landscape, unparalleled integrity and energy, and a commitment to competing at the highest level.”

Veatch arrived at Florida in July 2017 and served as the sports administrator for football as well as the primary liaison with Gator Boosters, which handles fundraising for Florida athletics.

He also led administrative oversight of capital improvement projects, event operations, facilities and strength and conditioning.

Aside from his time at K-State and Florida, Veatch’s background also includes stops at Texas (1995-97), Missouri (1997-2002) and Iowa State (2002-03).

Veatch said in a university release that his conversations with Rudd and various colleagues made it “apparent there is a tremendous amount of momentum in Memphis.” Veatch added that “we have an opportunity to build an unprecedented era in Tiger athletics.”

Memphis’ football team has made a school-record five straight bowl appearances, and men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway’s most recent recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the nation.

But the news hasn’t been all positive.

School officials announced last month they’ve launched an independent external review of their women’s basketball program in response to complaints of abuse and harassment.

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