CARTERVILLE — Interim athletic director Jerry Kill has hired Liz Jarnigan, an associate athletic director at the Air Force Academy, as SIU's new senior woman administrator.
Jarnigan has been the Falcons' senior woman administrator since 2016, when she came from San Jose State, and will help oversee three or four sports, Kill said Wednesday after speaking at a meeting for the Carterville Rotary Club. Jarnigan replaces Kathy Jones, who retired after 18 years as the Salukis' SWA/associate athletic director in December.
"She's somebody that will be unlike anybody else that's ever been at Southern Illinois," Kill said. "She could be the A.D."
Jarnigan served as a member of the Air Force Academy's senior leadership team and oversaw men's and women's programs at Colorado Springs, according to her online bio. The Falcons compete in 27 sports, 10 on the women's side, including fencing, gymnastics and rifle.
SIU competes in 17 sports (indoor and outdoor track count for both men and women under NCAA bylaws), including the new women's soccer program, which begins competition in the fall of 2019. The Salukis have nine women's sports and eight men's sports.
Kill, who still does some outreach for the chancellor's office, wants Jarnigan to oversee the internal operations of his revamped athletic department. She will fill one of 23 positions Kill has targeted in the athletic department that he would like to hire. The Hall of Fame football coach said he wants to spend a significant amount of time raising money, visiting with groups like the Carterville Rotary Club, and reconnecting with the region he's called home since arriving in 2001 from Emporia State.
"She's an 'A' player, and I felt like we needed somebody that would allow me to see people, and help the university financially, and help the athletic department, financially," Kill said.
Jarnigan began at San Jose State as the director for student-athlete success services in 2008 and was promoted to associate athletic director for student services the following year. In April 2010, she added the responsibilities of senior woman administrator.
Jarnigan oversaw women's volleyball and softball for the Spartans of the Mountain West Conference, as well as compliance, academics, student services and life skills. Prior to her time at San Jose State, she was the coordinator of student services at the University of Tulsa from 2001-06 and an associate athletic director in 2007-08.
Jarnigan was honored with the Tulsa Area Girls and Women in Sports Role Model Award in 2003 and 2004.
A 1987 cum laude graduate of St. Olaf College (Minnesota), Jarnigan was a four-year letterwinner on the volleyball team. She received her master's degree in athletic administration from Fort Hays State University (Kansas) in 1988 and coached for 10 years at the high school and college level. She was the head volleyball coach at Bethel College from 1989-94, leading them to a conference title in 1992, at Briar Cliff College from 1994-96 and at Carleton College from 1996-99.
Jarnigan began her administrative career at Briar Cliff College as assistant athletic director from 1994-96. Her husband, Jeff Jarnigan, is the assistant general manager of the Arizona Rattlers in the Indoor Football League. The Rattlers won the 2017 IFL title in their first year in that league. The franchise spent over 20 years in the Arena Football League.
The Jarnigans have three children, Mary, Jack and Emily.