Over the past 22 years, a lot has changed in Michigan athletics.
There have been three football coaches, eight national championships and a booster scandal.
Through it all, Bitsy Ritt has been the steady, guiding force for the Michigan women’s tennis program.
That will all change on June 1, when Ritt steps into her new role as associate athletic director, placing her in charge of overseeing 22 non-revenue sports.
Ritt’s move, which the Athletic Department announced last month, came as a shock to the members of the women’s tennis team. While the players were congratulatory and recognized the importance of the new opportunity, but they were also quiet and surprised, Ritt said.
The coach admittedly got emotional when she told her players about the move, and attributed much of her players’ reactions to the timing of the announcement.
Ritt will not step into her new post until June 1, but executive associate athletic director Michael Stevenson and others in the department decided that the time was right to announce their choice.
“We had spent almost a year in the search for this position,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said more than 130 candidates applied for the job, which became vacant more than two years ago when Megan Mccallister moved from the athletic department to marketing. In the interim, Stevenson filled the role of monitoring all non-revenue sports (varsity sports except for football, hockey and men’s basketball).
Ritt was a perfect fit because she has a deep understanding of the athletic and academic culture, Stevenson said.
Along with her responsibilities for the 22 Olympic sports, Ritt will become Michigan’s representative on the Big Ten Sports Management Council. The council hears suggestions from the conference’s coaches regarding potential changes to rules, regulations and scheduling.
One of the first tasks Ritt will undertake will be the hiring of her replacement, and although she hasn’t had any contact with potential coaches, Ritt confesses that she has a working list in her head.
“I know the tennis community very well,” the coach said. “I’ve coached for a long time. I know my colleagues very well. I know their styles.”
There is certainly a lot for Ritt to think about and look forward to in her new job, but she still has a full dual-meet season to complete with her team. Ritt is not in the least concerned about losing focus on this season.