Steve Downing is entering his sixth year as the Director of Athletics at Marian University. Downing was announced as the director on Aug. 19, 2011 and oversaw the Knights football team's run to the NAIA semifinals as well as the men's basketball team's run to the NAIA Division II Sweet Sixteen in his first year. His second year saw the Knights capture the NAIA Football National Championship and finish second in the Crossroads League All-Sports Standings.
During the 2015-16 season, Marian won national championships in football, women's basketball and cycling, while the softball program made a trip to the NAIA Softball World Series. The success followed an impressive 2014-15 campaign in which MU finished second in the Crossroads League All-Sports Standings with its highest point total in program history. The Knights won six league championships (tied for the most), one league tournament title and finished as the NAIA national runner-up in football to go with four USA Cycling Collegiate national championships.
During his five years at Marian University, Downing has implemented a study tables program for student-athletes and has increased awareness for the student-athletes who may be at-risk to receive assistance from the institution.
"Steve Downing is a leader of great character who understands Marian University's vision of profoundly transforming lives, society, and the world," said Marian University's president, Daniel J. Elsener. "With him as a role model, our student-athletes will graduate and become the next generation of leaders in their businesses, their communities, and our world."
Downing returns to his home state after spending the last 10 years as senior associate director of athletics at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. In this role, Downing managed the day-to-day internal operations of Red Raiders athletics and was responsible for a $47 million annual budget. He also served as the sport administrator for 11 varsity sports where he managed the day-to-day operations of these programs.
"I am originally from Indiana and I am ecstatic for this opportunity and the chance to come home," said Downing of his return to his home state. "I am grateful to President Elsener and Dr. Enneking for giving me the opportunity to run this program and wanted to thank them first. Marian University represents what is great about collegiate athletics, and understands the role that sports can play in engaging students to have a strong mind, strong body, and strong spirit and I'm proud to be a part of its continued growth."
Downing's wife, Doris, is a Marian University graduate and retired principal of Indian Creek Elementary School in Indianapolis.
At Marian University, Downing oversees the operations of 24 varsity sports that compete as members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), USA Cycling, the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) as well as the Mid-Central College Conference (MCC) and Mid-States Football Association (MSFA). Over the last five years, Marian University has increased its student-athlete population to more than 400 student-athletes competing at the national level.
Downing made it clear that he sees athletes as students first. "My philosophy embraces at the core, the university's commitment to the complete human development of the young men and women who wear the jerseys of their sport," Downing said. "This includes developing the life skills that address academic, personal, social, and career components." Downing also commented that he firmly believes that all students (athletes and non-athletes) are part of the Marian University experience, "Yet even more so, they are part of a larger community of Indianapolis, of Indiana, and of the world."
"For both the practical reason of his experience as a collegiate athletic administrator and the symbolic reason of all that he represents as an Indiana basketball legend, I can't think of a more perfect fit than Steve Downing and Marian University athletics," said Bill Benner, senior associate commissioner for external affairs at the Horizon League and a former reporter for the Indianapolis Star who is recognized as an authority on intercollegiate athletics. "It's long past time to welcome Steve back home."
Downing was former associate director of athletics at Indiana University Bloomington (IU) for 22 years, where he created the Student-Athlete Assistance Program, a prevention program for drug, alcohol, and personality disorders. He's a seasoned administrator, scheduler, and fundraiser who sees himself as a key player in engaging others with the university. "I believe my experiences in the departments of Texas Tech University and Indiana University will benefit Marian University," said Downing. "My experiences in the Big Ten and the Big XII will only enhance the transformational growth Marian University is experiencing."
As a player, Downing was a three-year letter winner at IU and was a member of the 1974 world champion Boston Celtics. Under former IU head coach Bob Knight's tutelage,he was named the Big Ten men's basketball most valuable player in 1973 after averaging 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in leading the Hoosiers to the NCAA Final Four. In 1995, Downing was inducted into the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame and, in 2009, was inducted into the Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame.