Coach Tony Bates Named CCAC Director of the Year
Ten years ago, there was no athletics program at Governors State University (GovState).
This fall, GovState will welcome more than 225 student-athletes, and the program’s visionary director, Anthony “Tony” Bates, is worthy of high praise from the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC). Selected by CCAC athletic directors, Bates has been named the 2022-23 Athletic Director of the Year.
“I feel blessed and humbled that my 14 peers from the CCAC Conference recognized my Athletic Department at GovState,” said Bates, of Richton Park. “I’m proud of my staff and my coaches, and the leaps and bounds we’ve made. We’ve worked hard over the last eight years to go from three to 14 varsity sports.”
Bates was hired to build the Jaguars program from the ground up, initiating athletics in 2015 as the university grew from a two-year program to a four-year institution. Today, there are plans to add bowling teams, as well as indoor and outdoor track & field, expanding the enrollment of student-athletes to 250. Next year, GovState will sponsor softball followed by baseball in 2025-26. The five-year growth plan includes additional campus athletic facilities.
Attitude sets Bates apart, said CCAC Commissioner Jeff Schimmelpfennig.
"Tony is a positive voice for our conference," he said. "In a time when people are quick to complain, Tony has a positive attitude every day."
Bates points to his coaches and athletes.
“Most people know how to follow, but very few are willing to lead. My coaches and student-athletes have that pioneering mindset. That makes me proud!”
In addition to his athletic director responsibilities, Bates also serves as the men's basketball coach. In 2023, he earned his 100th coaching victory.
Bates oversees a staff of 30 who encourage the full development of student-athletes. In 2022-23, six teams earned NAIA Scholar Team recognition (team grade point average of 3.00 or higher) and 31 student-athletes garnered CCAC all-academic status (3.25 or higher cumulative grade point average).
Outside the classroom, every student-athlete takes part in at least two service projects per year, which includes an annual department-wide service day in November.
When reflecting on his success, Bates talks about his late mother.
“My mom taught me to respect and do right by people, and those common values I take with me daily,” he said. “This award proves that her teachings where correct. I wish I could give it to her.”