Rensselaer Names Colonel James A. Knowlton as Director of Athletics

December 11, 2007

Troy, N.Y. — James A. Knowlton, a senior administrator at the United States Military Academy, has been named director of athletics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Knowlton succeeds Ken Ralph, who joined Colorado College as athletic director in August.

Knowlton, director of the Center for Enhanced Performance at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., will join Rensselaer in March 2008. He will take responsibility for overseeing the Institute’s 12 men’s and 11 women’s NCAA intercollegiate varsity teams and three junior varsity squads, involving more than 600 students.

“James Knowlton’s passion for developing the whole student makes him the perfect choice for leading the athletics program at Rensselaer,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Athletics participation is a cornerstone of the student experience at Rensselaer, and student athletes excel both athletically and academically. We look forward to working with Jim to take our entire athletics program to new heights.”

In his current position at the Military Academy, Knowlton leads a staff of 50 professionals who deliver training for peak performance in athletics, academics, and military endeavors to cadets, soldiers, and athletes both on and off the West Point campus. He also serves as chair of the NCAA Hockey Rules Committee, where he leads a diverse group of Division I and III men’s and women’s coaches and administrators during the annual rule-development process. 

From 2003 to 2006 Knowlton served as both deputy and interim director for the athletics department at West Point, where he led a staff of more than 200 people and supervised 25 intercollegiate athletic programs with more than 1,000 student-athletes. During his tenure, West Point set the stage to earn its first NCAA National Championship in more than 50 years. 

“I could not be more excited about joining the Rensselaer team,” Knowlton said. “The focus on the total student experience, the balance of excellence in both academics and athletics, and the vision of the entire Rensselaer community makes this an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Knowlton received a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1982 from West Point, where he was a four-year letter winner and captain of the varsity hockey team. After 10 years of organizational leadership positions of increasing responsibility in the U.S. Army, Knowlton received a master’s in civil engineering from Cornell University.

Knowlton returned to West Point in 1992 to teach in the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department, after which he was selected to lead and manage larger and more complex organizations within the Army, ultimately leading a battalion of 750 men and women while stationed at Ft. Carson, Colo. 

“James Knowlton’s broad experience as both a leader and an educator brings the right combination for setting a bold agenda for athletics at Rensselaer,” said Eddie Ade Knowles, vice president for student life. “With his leadership, we will continue to move Rensselaer athletics to even higher levels of excellence, while maintaining our outstanding track record of academic integrity.” 

In the past five years, Rensselaer has seen nearly 80 students arise as national All-America athletes, including the first-ever national champion in swimming and a national runner-up in track and field. Nearly 50 athletes have competed in individual NCAA meets and five teams have participated in NCAA tournaments. 

The grade-point average of a Rensselaer student-athlete consistently exceeds that of a student not involved in athletics. Approximately 40 students have earned national Academic All-America recognition, and in both 2004 and 2005, the field hockey team earned the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III Academic Team Award, a distinction that recognizes a program that has the highest team grade point average in the country. In 2006 the men’s cross country team posted the nation’s second highest team grade point average. 

Knowlton is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Virginia. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Ranger Tab, the Air Assault Badge, and the Senior Parachutist Badge.

Knowlton and his wife, Corey, have five sons: Jimmy, 23; Patrick, 21; Christopher, 18; Mark, 13; and Shawn, 10.


Jason Gorss: (518) 276-6098

Kevin Beattie: (518) 276-2187

Contact: Jason Gorss
Phone: (518) 276-6098

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