By T. Scott Boatright
In a move that stunned much of Lincoln Parish Wednesday, Grambling State University’s Athletics Department announced that David “Rusty” Ponton is stepping down as Athletics Director and will take on a new position at the university.
After more than two years as GSU AD as well as serving as vice president of student affairs, Ponton will next serve as special assistant to the president for student success, as of May 1.
GSU has tabbed TurnkeyZRG to assist in replacing Ponton, marking the first time the university has hired a search firm for the position.
GSU President Rick Gallot on Friday said that he plans to have Ponton’s successor named by July 1.
“Dr. Ponton has demonstrated a proven dedication to all parts of our student experience for more than 30 years,” said President Gallot. “We are grateful for his service and willingness to continue innovating for our students.”
GSU said that during until the void left by Ponton’s departure is filled, senior athletics leaders will report directly to the president.
Ponton joined Grambling’s athletics department in 1988 as an assistant men’s basketball coach. During his tenure, he has also served as the head women’s basketball coach, director of the Favrot Student Union, dean of student activities, dean of students, and associate vice president for student affairs.
In 2016, he was appointed as vice president for student affairs for the University. In addition to his higher education work, he has also worked in marketing and engineering for Fortune 1000 companies that include Shell Oil.
Ponton’s athletics higher education leadership experience began as a student at Southern University where as a student-athlete he was a star point guard. He is a member of both the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame and an inductee into the Southern University Hall of Fame.
His athletics leadership also includes service as the Team USA Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach for the R. Williams Jones Cup Team and the assistant basketball coach for the gold medal-winning Men’s R. Williams Jones Cup Team for USA Basketball.