Greater Tulsa Reporter
DANIEL C. CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
Ken Ellett has been the Broken Arrow athletic director for 20 years. Leading into his platinum anniversary, Ellet received the Oklahoma Coaches Association’s top honor, Athletic Director of the Year.
Ellett arrived at Broken Arrow from the University of Wisconsin where he was an offensive line coach for former University of Tulsa Coach Don Morton. Ellet went to college at North Dakota State University where he met Morton, who was an assistant coach at the time. Morton was hired as head coach at NDSU and hired Ellet to be one of his assistants. Morton and Ellett came to Tulsa to coach at TU next before heading to Wisconsin.
Coaching at a high profile university like Wisconsin requires a lot of time and effort and Ellett felt the need to be around his family more. Bob Babich, defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears is a friend of Ellett’s. They had coached together at Wisconsin and TU. Babich told Ellett about the B.A. athletic director position opening, Ellett applied and got the job. The result was that Ellett got to be closer to his family, coach his kids in Little League and watch them grow up while at the helm of the athletic department of what is now the largest high school in Oklahoma.
In the time Ellett has served at B.A., he has seen the district’s athletics grow into a state powerhouse. The era of Rick Jones was an outstanding time for B.A. football and it really raised the bar for the future. Jones moved on to coach in Arkansas in 2004 after nine years and a 73-34 record. His immediate successors were not as successful and did not last. Ellet comments, “It doesn’t take much to fall off from that top three or four teams.” Ellett hired former Jenks football coaching legend Ron Lancaster for the 2007 season with hopes of rebuilding what Jones had left. “He’s got us back in the hunt and did it in short order,” says Ellett. The entire state knew that last year when B.A. opened the season with a 24-9 victory over then nationally ranked Union. The squad looks to continue with this momentum heading into the fall with about four or five potential division-1 athletes and six time state champion coach leading the way.
Lancaster committed to three years and therefore this will be his last. Assistant coach and assistant athletic director, Steve Spavital will take over as head coach next year. Spavital is also well respected in the region as a fantastic coach. He spent time as defensive coordinator at Union before taking the position on Lancaster’s staff.
Dr. Gary Gerber, the current Broken Arrow Public Schools superintendent, has been very supportive of Ellett and the athletic department. The department is undergoing structural changes that are being funded by bond issues and require a commitment from the superintendent position and the school board.
These structural changes include a three-phase construction of a new athletic facility. The two-story facility will have an indoor field, locker rooms and more. The building will be placed in the large field just south of Tiger Stadium’s south end zone. Phase one will be for football with a locker room, weight room and media room. If the bond issues continue, the plan is for phase two to have the athletic offices built upstairs. The third phase plan is to have a near full size indoors football field.
The facility will be practical in many ways. Currently, the football locker rooms are across campus. Completion of the building will consolidate the athletics near where they need to be. Additionally, other schools in the area have been building unbelievable structures for their athletic departments and the new construction will keep B.A. up to par with their competing districts.
Bixby just finished the Home of the Spartans. Jenks recently opened the Sharp Center. Owasso will debut their indoor facility and offices this fall. All of these facilities are state of the art and are nicer than those on many college campuses. B.A.’s goal is to have the largest indoor field and nicest facilities while keeping the whole project practical.