UNIQUE, DIFFERENT, APPEALING! These are the three enthusiastic words that Executive Director of Athletics Wendell Staton uses to describe the Georgia College culture. Staton was named as the sixth Director of Athletics at Georgia College in the Fall of 2009. Staton is relationship centered and leads by the quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast every day.” He is well known for his positive and contagious enthusiasm and is relentless in pursuing a welcoming and positive culture that puts the best interest of the student-athlete at the core of the decision making process. Staton leads a culture that fosters respect for one another in a fun and upbeat working environment. This UNIQUE, DIFFERENT, and APPELAING culture centers around holistic student success and fostering positive, authentic relationships throughout the campus community. Unique experiences include the annual Women’s student-athlete Leadership Luncheon with President Dorman; the annual student “toast” in the Fall and Spring; and the dozens and dozens of conversations that Staton has with student-athletes on an informal basis. This holistic approach has led to the moniker of “Graduating Champions for Life.”
The focus on the entire student experience is documented by the academic, social, and athletic success that is consistent on an annual basis. Under his watch, Georgia College has consistently been a leader within the NCAA Federal Graduation Rate reporting. Bobcat student-athletes have the highest four class average in the University System of Georgia. The department has produced five Valedictorians over the past five years and have set and re-set school records in student-athlete Grade Point Average. The 2018-19 academic year produced a 3.31 Grade Point Average by its student-athletes, which is the highest in recorded history at Georgia College. Ten student-athletes have been named Academic All-America and two have been named PBC student-athlete of the Year.
Holistic success has included routine advancement into NCAA posts season play. During a six year span, Georgia College spring programs (Baseball, Golf, Softball, Men’s Tennis, & Women’s Tennis) advanced to NCAA play twenty-six times out of thirty possible opportunities. Men’s and Women’s Cross Country both their first individual runners to participate at the NCAA National Championships during this time. In 2013, Staton brought Volleyball to Georgia College as the eleventh NCAA program. In it’s fifth year of existence, Georgia College Volleyball advanced to the first of back to back NCAA tournament appearances. Georgia College teams are routinely in the national Top 25 rankings and Southeast Region rankings. The Bobcats have had three PBC Championships and four PBC Tournament titles in Staton’s tenure and the school has brought in 44 individual All-America honors as well.
Georgia College emphasizes sportsmanship and was recognized for the first time as the recipient of the Peach Belt Institution of the Year for Sportsmanship in 2017. Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Tennis, and Golf have all been recognized by their peers in this area. Soccer has consistently been recognized by its coaches association with the Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award.
Community engagement is a staple of the department and student-athletes and coaches are active throughout the campus community. Thanks to the efforts of our student-athletes, Georgia College has been a national leader in funds raised for the Make-A-Wish foundation and has been able to host “wish” reveals on campus.
Staton believes that Georgia College student-athletes participate in the best “Leadership Lab” on campus. The department has put great emphasis on leadership development as the growth of coaches leads to the growth of students. The Game Changers Leadership workshops has become a signature program of this philosophy. From community engagement activates, to guest speakers, to time tested leadership lessons from staff members outside of each program, Georgia College student-athletes have multiple opportunities for growth under the tutelage of their head coach.
With a hiring model that focuses first and foremost on character, four staff members have been named Coach of the Year by their PBC peers and six have led their programs to Sportsmanship recognition by their peers. Staton created the first Assistant AD role held by a female at Georgia College. Two former staff members are now Assistant ADs/Senior Woman Administrators at the NCAA Division II level. Multiple coaches and administrators appear on NCAA Committees, as the department fosters a culture of learning and growth that encourages staff to engage in professional growth opportunities.
Staton has been a member of multiple NCAA Committees, including serving a two year term as the Chair for the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Committee. He currently serves as a member of the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Committee. He has served on the Regionalization Task Force and served as a mentor in the D2 ADA mentor program. In 2019-20, he is on the faculty of the D2 ADA mentor program. He has also served as a mentor in the PBC SWA/mentor program.
Active throughout campus, Staton serves as the host/emcee for all Georgia College Parent Orientations as well as major Admission events, including Fall Fest and Spring Fest. A self-described “walking billboard” for Georgia College, Staton has served as a guest speaker from ribbon cuttings to Fall Convocation, and at any function that is looking to create positive energy. Active throughout the community, Staton is a member of the Milledgeville Rotary Club and a board member for the Milledgeville Convention and Visitors Bureau. While in North Carolina he received the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award recognition for his volunteerism and was active on multiple boards. He is a past President of the Lumberton Rotary Club and the Robeson Road Runners.
Staton came to Georgia College from UNC Pembroke, in Pembroke, North Carolina where he had served as Associate Vice Chancellor for Advancement from 2005-2009. While at UNCP, he was part of a team that set new fundraising records. Additionally, he was an integral part of the “First and Ten Campaign,” the campaign that brought football back to UNCP after being dormant for over fifty years.
Prior to his work in the advancement office at UNCP, Staton was the Director of Recreation and Parks in Lumberton, N.C. for three years. Hi initial assignment at UNCP was as a coach and faculty member in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation department. From 1996-2002, he served UNCP as Assistant men’s Basketball Coach and Head Men’s Golf Coach, where he led UNCP to it’s first ever appearance in NCAA post season play on the links. Staton had a prior stint at GC, having served as a men's basketball assistant coach from 1991-93 under head coach Mark Simons. Staton also coached at Armstrong State University, Elon University and Campbell University.
Staton was a basketball student-athlete at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1990. He added a Master of Education degree from Georgia College in 1993.
Residing in Milledgeville, Staton is married to the former Yvette Renaud, who teaches elementary school in Putnam County. They are the proud parents of Georgia College alum Ellen, and Georgia Southern graduate Charlie.