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IU Northwest News

Meet Ryan Shelton, the new IU Northwest athletic director


Two-time IU Northwest alumnus and women's basketball coach takes the helm

Monday Apr 10, 2017


Ryan Shelton has always loved sports. When the new Indiana University Northwest athletic director was 3 years old, he vividly recalls asking his mother when he would get the chance to try out for baseball, because he just couldn’t wait to play in Little League.

A Merrillville native, Shelton went on to play baseball, soccer and basketball year-round. At Merrillville High School, he helped the basketball team win a sectional championship and was named an all-conference soccer player. When he wasn’t playing sports in school, he played sports at home.

“I had a huge backyard and all the neighborhood kids knew I had the best spot for pick-up games of soccer, baseball, even wiffle ball,” he says.

When it came time for college, Shelton let sports lead the way. He enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia because it was the only school in the country that offered a specialized computer graphics/animation program and the opportunity to play basketball.

Eventually the cost of a private university became an obstacle for Shelton, and like many students at IU Northwest, he found himself back home and looking for a local, affordable option for finishing college. He enrolled at the Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), but transferred to IU Northwest when he realized he could graduate with a degree in his major right here in the region. He’s been at IU Northwest ever since.

A Legacy of Strength

In 2000, while still a student, Shelton began working in the Office of Marketing and Communications (OMC) as a graphic designer. During the next 17 years, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s degree in public affairs at IU Northwest. He also coached the women’s RedHawks basketball team for 10 years, leading it to three National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championship tournaments in 2010, 2011 and 2017 and two USCAA national championship tournaments in 2008 and 2009 — all while keeping his day job at OMC.

In March, Shelton was named the NAIA Association of Independent Institution (AII) Conference Coach of the Year for the fourth time. Players he has coached at IU Northwest have been selected conference player of the year seven times, with 10 All-American selections, 23 all-conference selections and numerous national academic and champions of character awards.

In his new role, Shelton will continue to serve as head coach of the women’s basketball team, and also take on the responsibility of overseeing IU Northwest’s six other NAIA Division II teams: men’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country and golf, and women’s volleyball.

He believes he is stepping in as athletics director at the perfect time.

“We’ve got so much momentum. We have a nationally recognized women’s basketball program, a men’s basketball program that is coming off its best season in school history, a growing volleyball program, and budding golf and cross-country teams that have achieved lots of early success,” he says.

He hopes to build on this foundation with an emphasis on strong academic learning as a recruitment and retention tool.

“As a student, professional staff member and coach, I’ve experienced first-hand the high-quality education we provide to students,” he says. “As a life-long region resident, I know there are many local student-athletes who would thrive in IU Northwest’s academics-first athletic program.”

Shelton sees this as the key to strengthening the RedHawks’ reputation and adding value to the campus.

“At IU Northwest, we have a strong sense of community and lots of great athletics stories to tell. We hope to spread this incredible spirit through increased awareness and outreach in the community.”

View Indiana University Northwest Office of Marketing and Communications Media Contact information

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