New Athletic Director plans to lift up athletic department

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Athletic Director Jim Spillers cheers on Lady Jags at their volleyball match against SDSU's club team. Photo by William Bird

Athletic Director Jim Spillers cheers on Lady Jags at their volleyball match against SDSU’s club team. Photo by William Bird

As a college shot putter, Jim Spillers did a lot of heavy lifting.

Now he said he is ready to lift the Southwestern College athletic department.

Spillers said he wants to raise the standard for student athletes. Instead of the California Community College Athletic Association’s minimum requirements of 12 units and a GPA of 2.0 during each season, Spillers is pushing to hold athletes to 15 units and a 2.5 GPA. Another goal is for student-athletes to leave SWC with a degree, certificate or scholarship.

“I want to see student-athletes complete,” he said. “We don’t just compete, we complete. “Athletics is just a game and for all of us, sooner or later, the game ends. We need our education and training.”

Community colleges provided Spillers his foundation, he said. After earning a track and field scholarship to San Jose State, he dropped out and enrolled at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, located in Los Angeles County.

“Thank goodness that I did,” he said. “Mount SAC helped me get on the right path, helped me get my academics and athletics where they needed to be.”

At Mt. SAC Spillers was captain of the track team, a conference champion and the school record-holder for shot put at 55’ 8.”

His record lasted for 20 years.

After earning his Associate’s degree in general education, Spillers transferred to SDSU on a track scholarship. He earned a Bachelor’s in public administration with an emphasis in human resource management.

After college Spillers coached track at El Capitan High School for a year, then returned to SDSU to join the coaching staff. He spent nine years coaching, he said, but began to climb the ladder of the athletic department.

In 2005 Grossmont College hired Spillers as its dean of athletics.

Highlights, he said, were hiring full-time faculty head coaches for baseball and women’s volleyball, and keeping all sports alive during the Great Recession. In 2014 Grossmont won the DeVore Award as the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference’s most successful program.

“You know, you got to give the award to one person, but it took the whole village to make it happen,” he said.

Athletics staff said Spillers has made a smooth transition to SWC. Technician Peggy Ball said it feels as though Spillers has been here for years.

“He comes from another college in our conference, Grossmont, so he was familiar with how the conference works already,” she said.

Softball coach Yasmin Mossadeghi said Spillers comes out to games.

“All of our athletes know who he is,” she said. ”He’s very present in our program, and very supportive.”

Retired A.D. Terry Davis said Spillers understands the community college system and his knowledge of sports is a plus.

“He’s a very caring person,” said Davis. “He really understands the need of the students and that athletes are students first and athletes second.”

Spillers said he has a vision.

“Now my goal is to win the DeVore Award here,” he said. “I want us to win it as a college.”

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