Joe Etzel is retiring as University of Portland athletic director after 34 years in the position.

'A very tough decision to make, but probably the right one at this point,' says Etzel, who will be 66 in June.

Etzel, the longest tenured athletic director among NCAA Division I schools, will stay until June as the school searches for a successor.

Etzel has been at UP since 1965, when he was head baseball coach and an assistant basketball coach.

'There's been tremendous change at the university and in the athletic program,' he says. 'We had five men's sports when I became AD, and now we have 16 total, eight men's and eight women's. And all the facilities we have make a huge difference.'

UP's president, the Rev. E. William Beau-champ, praised Etzel's 'remarkable leadership and commitment to excellence over the years.'

'Joe has touched the lives of countless student athletes, coaches and staff, leaving a solid and lasting foundation for those who follow in his able footsteps,' Beauchamp says.

Etzel plans to stay in Portland.

'I'll be the Pilots' biggest fan,' he says.

ÑTribune staff

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