Seeger Chapel steeple against an orange sunset

Milligan athletic director making an impact

Christian Pope

MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY, TENN. (October 5, 2021) – Christian Pope officially took the helm of Milligan University athletics on June 28. Today, he announced a series of new initiatives to bolster the well-being of student-athletes.

Pope explained that some of the initiatives have been in development for several months and many address concerns recently raised regarding Milligan’s athletic program.

“The rigors of the physical and mental challenges of college athletics are daunting,” said Pope, who has spent the past few months and weeks assessing compliance and internal procedures, as well as meeting with Milligan athletic teams, athletes and coaching staff. “We want to better equip our staff to support and serve the needs of our student-athletes in all avenues.”

The first initiative Pope announced is the designation of a senior woman administrator for athletics. This position will promote meaningful representation of women in the leadership and management of athletics at Milligan.

Pope also said an additional assistant track and field coach will be dedicated to the women’s team, which is among the largest athletic teams at Milligan.

Overall wellness and mental health are the focus of several other initiatives. Milligan athletics will partner with the U.S. Center for Safe Sport to provide mandatory training for all staff on recognizing and responding to signs of emotional, physical and sexual misconduct. Coaches and athletes also will participate in the Mental Health First Aid national program to learn to identify and respond to the signs of mental illness.

“This ensures we are effectively monitoring our programs and educating those with oversight responsibilities in those areas,” said Pope. “Being able to recognize the needs of our athletes and provide access to the help they need is critical to the student-athlete experience.”

In Pope’s short time in the region, he has secured partnerships with a number of local healthcare professionals to form a medical advisory group to supplement Milligan’s sports medicine staff. Practitioners in orthopedics, podiatry, physical therapy, nutrition, psychology, dermatology, chiropractic and general medicine have signed on to provide medical services to student-athletes as needed.

“Partnering with local medical professionals allows our athletes better access to ample and consistent medical care and support,” said Pope. “We are blessed with a tremendous amount of regional support for our athletic program.”

Pope also formalized an existing partnership with the Center of Excellence in Sports Science at East Tennessee State University, which provides oversight and management of Milligan’s strength and conditioning support to student-athletes. Milligan’s sports medicine staff will assess all injured athletes, and rehabilitation assistance for injury recovery and return-to-play protocols will be made in coordination with the ETSU Center.

“This service and partnership help provide a first-class experience to our athletes,” said Pope, who has accumulated over 27 years of experience in athletic administration at Campbell University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Indiana University, Murray State University, University of Rhode Island, Chicago State University and Georgia Southern University.

Two final initiatives seek to support internal communication within athletics, explained Pope. All staff will participate in communications and conflict resolution training.

“The practice of effective communication cannot be left to chance as it is critical to our success,” said Pope.

Pope also wants student-athletes to have more of a voice in various protocols and procedures, including team travel, academic initiatives, health and safety concerns, fundraising and athletics awareness. He will unveil a newly formed Student-Athlete Advisory Committee this fall.

“We have a duty to care for and nurture every student-athlete,” said Pope. “At Milligan, we endeavor to exceed their expectations. We want to remain strong and proud of what we have accomplished in the past while striving for more and better in what we do in the future.”

Milligan has 31 intercollegiate sports that compete in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Learn more about Milligan athletics at


MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit or call 800-262-8337.

Posted by Chase McGlamery on October 5, 2021.