Wayne State's longtime athletic director placed on leave

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Rob Fournier, Wayne State's athletic director since 2000, has been placed on administrative leave, according to an email sent out to athletic-department employees Tuesday.

The email — sent by Michael Wright, Wayne State's vice president of communications — said Fournier is not allowed to have any contact with employees within the athletic department. The email was obtained Wednesday morning by The Detroit News.

In Fournier's absence, Erika Wallace, the athletics department's chief of staff, will assume the leadership role. The email said employees are to refrain from contacting Fournier.

Rob Fournier, Wayne State University director of athletics

It was not immediately clear the reason or reasons behind Fournier's administrative leave.

Fournier took over as Wayne State athletic director Sept. 1, 2000, and has overseen big changes within the department, including the rise of the Division II school's football and basketball programs and the improvement of their facilities. Fournier helped oversee the building of a 3,000-seat, $28.3 million basketball arena on campus that opened in November 2000, and is shared with the Detroit Pistons' G-League team, Motor City Cruise.

In 2017, Wayne State opened the $2.3 million Harwell Field, home to the baseball team, which has earned rave reviews and incorporated design elements of Tiger Stadium, Fenway Park and the old Ebbets Field.

In Fournier's tenure, Wayne State teams have won 41 conference championships, 17 conference tournament championships, and 51 conference coach-of-the-year honors.

Fournier added a statewide radio and television package and even added sports teams — women's indoor and outdoor track and field, women's golf — during a time when schools were far more likely to subtract than add.

Before arriving at Wayne State, Fournier was legal counsel and senior associate commissioner for the Mid-American Conference and was acting commissioner in 1999. He drew up the contract that created the Motor City Bowl, which ran from 1997 through 2013, first at the Pontiac Silverdome and then at Ford Field. It has been replaced with the Quick Lane Bowl, which continues to have a MAC tie-in.

Fournier attended the University of Akron, where he earned bachelor's, master's and law degrees.


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