Changing roles in WolfPack athletics department

New Interim Director, Jason Verhelst, hits the ground running fulfilling longtime goal

Taleise Lawrence, Assistant Editor

Jason Verhelst is fulfilling a longtime goal by becoming the Interim Director of Athletics after 22 years spent with the Madison College WolfPack. 

This comes after his time spent as Associate Athletic Director. And he got right to work. Within his first month on the job, he hired three new coaches.  

While the role is something that he’s always wanted, Verhelst is learning how to divide his time. 

“I just have to remember to pump the brakes every once in a while, ‘cause I’m somebody that, I love to try new things. And I’m, you know, real passionate about trying to improve processes and make life easier for people. But, you know, I have to remember that I have to keep all these balls in the air while I’m juggling,” said Verhelst. “Sometimes I have to be smart about which I’m adding.” 

One of the balls he is juggling is being president of the N4C conference. This is in addition to his duties as Director of Athletic that includes hiring coaches, managing budgets, transitioning teams to Division II, overseeing the eligibility process for athletes, managing the Fitness Center and more. He also officiated his first Big 10 women’s Swimming Diving Championship this past spring. 

“I guess for me, I have to learn a little bit to say no. I’m not incredibly good at that, but I will learn,” said Verhelst. 

One thing Verhelst has said no to is continuing to coach. He recently retired after 13 years of coaching high school girl’s swimming at Madison Memorial. 

“That was kind of hard to give that up, but I knew that’s something I had to do,” said Verhelst. He realized that it is important to strike a healthy balance in life. 

Verhelst is hoping to take the “interim” off his title, though he is uncertain what the future holds. 

Looking to next year, all WolfPack teams will compete in Division II, allowing each team to award their athletes scholarships. The Illinois teams that the school competes against have tuition waivers, which isn’t allowed in the Wisconsin Technical College System. That means fund-raising for scholarships will also be one of Verhelst’s roles. 

Verhelst isn’t the only one whose role in WolfPack athletics has changed; the athletic department played a bit of musical chairs.  

Some faces are familiar, but in new roles. 

Lois Heeren, former women’s basketball coach, is filling the role of associate athletic director that Verhelst left. Former men’s basketball coach Jamal Palmer is now the student-athleted development, success and equity coordinator, a new position at Madison College.  

Mike Mayfield and James Adams were both assistant coaches for the women’s basketball team last year, and have now become head coach and associate head coach for the team respectively.  

Steve Hauser, previously the athletic director, will be staying on the staff as special assistant to executive vice president of finance and administration until October. 

There are some new faces as well. Mallory Dixon was hired as the volleyball coach and performance coach. Jason Roscoe was hired as the men’s basketball coach and academic advisor.  

Verhelst is happy to be working with the new crew from his new office. 

“I work with a great group of people in my department, and they’re all really good at what they do. And so it’s trusting, trusting them that they’re going to get their jobs done to allow all of us to be successful,” he said.