George Koonce is the new Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Koonce comes to UWM from Marquette University, where he served as a Senior Associate Athletic Director.
He was named to the post on March 17 and officially took over in mid-April.
Koonce spent nine seasons as a player in the National Football League, eight of those coming as a starter with the Green Bay Packers. While in Green Bay, he helped the Packers win their first Super Bowl championship in 29 years. He also spent a season as a player with the Seattle Seahawks before working as the special assistant to the athletic director at East Carolina University and as the director of player development with the Packers.
In his most recent position at Marquette, Koonce was primarily involved with fundraising, community relations and student welfare. He also served as the sport administrator for the women's soccer program.
"I have every confidence that the experience and familiarity George Koonce has with Milwaukee and Wisconsin fans will greatly benefit the UWM Panthers," Santiago said. "His energy and enthusiasm will further elevate a strong program built by outgoing director Bud Haidet and his excellent staff."
"I am humbled and thankful for the opportunity to lead an athletic program that has the background and tradition this program has," Koonce said. "This is a great opportunity for me and my family, but with opportunity comes accountability and responsibility. I welcome the challenge of doing my part to help not only the athletic department but the University as a whole. I truly believe in athletics being integrated into the University and in the University becoming an active part of the athletic program. I think it is a perfect fit and I am eager to get started."
Koonce's wide-ranging experiences include a stint as the director of player development in Green Bay. In that role, he assisted players in adjusting to life on and off the field in the NFL.
After a successful college football career at East Carolina, Koonce returned to the school as the special assistant to the athletic director in December of 2003. While at ECU, he was extensively involved in special fundraising projects, including raising $1 million for the basketball program and over $5 million for football practice facilities, meeting rooms and renovations of the academic center. He also earned a master's degree in sports management from the school in 2006.
Koonce's NFL career included 720 career tackles (447 solo), nine sacks, one forced fumble, five fumble recoveries and five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. In all, he played in 128 NFL games, making 118 starts between his eight years in Green Bay and one season in Seattle.
He has been widely recognized for his athletic accomplishments, earning enshrinement in four different halls of fame. Koonce was inducted into the National Junior College Hall of Fame in 2000 before also earning a place in the East Carolina University Athletic Hall of Fame 2002, the Chowan College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003 and West Craven (NC) High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
Koonce is also currently pursuing his interdisciplinary Ph.D. in sports administration at Marquette.
Koonce was born Oct. 15, 1968 in New Bern, N.C. He and his wife, Tunisia, have a son, George and daughter, Jayla.