Oct. 8, 2021–Missouri Western State University will interview three finalists for director of athletics next week. The finalists include two current NCAA Division II athletic directors and a Division I associate athletic director. Missouri Western is seeking to replace Dr. Josh Looney, who left in August to become director of athletics at the University of North Alabama.

Members of the community will have an opportunity to hear from each finalist during brief presentations and open forums from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 11, Tuesday, Oct. 12 and Thursday, Oct. 13 in the Fulkerson Center. 

The three finalists are:

rachel burleson

Rachel Burleson

Rachel Burleson, Monday, Oct. 11

Rachel Burleson is currently the director of athletics at NCAA Division II Franklin Pierce University. She previously served at fellow MIAA institutions, Missouri Southern State University, where she was the associate athletic director for compliance and internal operations, and Northwest Missouri State University as the assistant softball coach. She has also served as an assistant athletic director at fellow NCAA Division II universities, Western State Colorado University, as external operations and gameday, and Oklahoma Panhandle State University, gameday and internal operations. Burleson earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science from Tarleton State University, a master’s degree in athletic administration from Northwest Missouri State and an MBA at Franklin Pierce.

Dwight Merilatt, Tuesday, Oct. 12

dwight merilatt

Dwight Merilatt

Currently, Dwight Merilatt serves as the executive associate athletic director for external affairs at NCAA Division I Illinois State University. Previously, Merilatt worked at the University of Evansville from 2007-2015 as associate athletics director for external affairs, then senior associate athletics director for external affairs, serving as the interim director of athletics in the summer of 2014. Prior to his time at Evansville, Merilatt spent six years at Eastern Kentucky University as assistant athletics director for marketing and corporate partnerships and director for development. He has also spent time as athletic development director and executive director of the Rams Athletic Association at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, and as general manager of the Tampa Bay FireStix, a women’s professional softball team in Florida. Merilatt received his bachelor’s degree in sports management from the University of Kentucky and his master’s degree in sports administration from Eastern Kentucky University. 

Joel Lueken, Thursday, Oct. 14

joel lueken

Joel Lueken

Joel Lueken has served as Athletic Director at NCAA Division II South Dakota Mines since April 2014. Lueken joined William Jewell in 2006 as athletic event management/assistant baseball coach. In 2009 Joel was named assistant athletics director and promoted again in 2012 to associate athletic director. Joel spent six years at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, in various capacities as head baseball coach, admissions recruiter, assistant women’s basketball coach, intramural director, assistant wellness coordinator and student housing assistant. He received an associate degree from Ellsworth Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Ottawa University and a master’s degree from Northwest Missouri State University. 

No reservations are required to participate in the community forums. Please note that Missouri Western requires the use of face coverings in all indoor public spaces. 

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit missouriwestern.edu