After 43 years with UNC Charlotte, athletic director Judy Rose has announced her pending retirement. Rose will finish out the academic year with her retirement taking effect on June 30th. Just the third female Division I athletic director in NCAA history, Rose certainly enjoyed a lengthy and memorable career for which she can be proud of.
While Rose laid the foundation for Charlotte’s athletic program, she came under intense fire from fans over the past few years as the 49ers’ football and basketball programs languished. 49ers fans left no expense to voice their displeasure with Rose’s leadership as boosters paid to skywrite “FIRE JUDY ROSE” over campus and launched firejudyrose.com, which rose to the third Google ranking for the “Judy Rose” search term.
Rose’s retirement comes as a huge win for the Charlotte fanbase that has vocally demanded for changes in their athletics department. The beleaguered athletic director faced the most scrutiny after opting to retain head football coach Brad Lambert this offseason despite his 17-41 record as a head coach. With Rose remaining on the job through June it’s highly unlikely that any change will be made to Lambert’s employment but Rose’s replacement will likely be grading Lambert’s 2018 season with a sharp eye.
The final few months of Rose’s tenure were certainly awkward for all parties. With both Rose and Charlotte chancellor Phil Dubois going on PR spin tours in front of the local media, the university administration’s email inboxes filled up with passionate emails from supporters. The First 49 obtained several emails from officials within the department that show the level of despair and desperation inside the front office.
Reactions to Rose’s retirement among the 49ers’ fan base ranged from celebration to pettiness to advocating for an increased commitment to the athletics program from boosters.
It's so lit the #FireJudyRose campaign finally paid off. Maybe Charlotte will actually have a good football team next season.— Gabe Seyboth (@GabeSeyboth) January 4, 2018
For everyone that participated #FireJudyRose - buckle up and put on some green tinted glasses. Let's see where this goes. It is time to put your fanhood and money where your mouth was.— Normbulance (@Normbulance) January 4, 2018
Chancellor Phil Dubois will lead the search for a new athletic director in what is likely one of the most important hires he will ever make. The 49ers’ athletic program is in poor shape and needs a huge jolt of life in order to regain competitiveness among C-USA and other mid-major peers.
The next athletic director will have to immediately make a head coaching hire for men’s basketball and will likely look to make a change at head coach for football, as well as develop improved facilities for football. It’s a tough road ahead but the right hire could have Charlotte starting to creep towards their potential.