August 5, 2023

Robbyn DeSpain

Legendary Valdosta State Athletic Director Herb Reinhard Announces Retirement

Herb Reinhard has been Athletic Director at Valdosta State University since 1992. He plans to retire effective June 30, 2024.

VALDOSTA – After 31 years at the helm of Valdosta State University’s Blazer Athletics, Herb Reinhard has decided to retire effective June 30, 2024.

Reinhard is credited with prominently placing Valdosta State University on the national map of collegiate athletics, including a dominance across NCAA Division II programs. During his tenure, VSU’s athletic programs have won 48 of the school’s 52 Gulf South Conference Championships and 7 of its 8 National Championships.

“To say Herb has had a heck of a run would be an all-time understatement,” said Dr. Richard Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University. “He has been a trusted advisor to numerous presidents, including me, always asking just the right question at just the right time about the big issues VSU confronts. While I am personally excited about what will come next for Herb, there is no question that he will be missed by all of Blazer Nation.”

Reinhard began at VSU in 1992, coming from Florida A&M University where he was the assistant athletic director in charge of marketing and promotions. John Hansen, head tennis coach at VSU, who has won two of the school’s eight national championships, was the only current head coach already on campus when Reinhard came on board.

“When Herb arrived at Valdosta State, the athletic department was in a somewhat disorganized state,” said Hansen.  “Herb was just the man we needed. He guided us through some tough years and was not afraid to make some painful decisions. By bringing budgets under control and by making some fantastic personnel hires, he was able to add more sports and upgrade and build more facilities, all to make Valdosta State University one of the greatest Division II athletic departments in the country.”

Reinhard is credited with expanding women’s athletics at VSU, including the restart of volleyball in 1995 and the addition of soccer in 2011. Jennifer Grubbs, the associate athletics director, senior woman administrator, and deputy title IX coordinator at VSU, says his impact is immeasurable.

“Herb Reinhard is a giant within Valdosta State University, the Gulf South Conference, and the NCAA,” said Grubbs. “He has been instrumental in shepherding Blazer Athletics through growth and steering us through times of adversity.  Within the Gulf South Conference and the NCAA, he has ensured that Valdosta State occupies a preeminent position among NCAA Division II institutions.  To his entire athletic staff, he is a source of wisdom and guidance.  His steady-handed leadership will be missed.”

Reinhard is the longest-tenured athletic director in the Gulf South Conference. Matt Wilson has been the conference’s commissioner since 2014.

“Herb’s impact on Valdosta State and the Gulf South Conference cannot be overstated,” said Wilson. “His integrity, his vision, his strength of conviction, and his ability to balance what’s best for VSU and what’s best for the whole have been key to his time. On a personal note, Herb has made my tenure as GSC Commissioner better in many ways. Upon my appointment, he shared advice and background that I would have not otherwise had access to, and he consistently kept myself and our staff accountable. However, most importantly, Herb has become a friend and mentor that I am very thankful for.”

Several of VSU’s athletic programs have had long term success under Reinhard’s leadership, including football and men’s basketball. Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Helfer is entering his 19th season at VSU.

"Herb represents everything that is good in college athletics and at Valdosta State,” said Helfer. “He just cares about everything and everyone. It doesn't matter how big of an issue that arises; I guarantee he will be the first to help solve it.  I am so thankful to have him as my athletic director. I have learned how to be a great basketball coach and lead a program from Herb, but most importantly I have learned how to be a great father and family man.  I will forever be indebted to him for more than I could ever say in words. He is simply the best.”

Many of the top names in college football have ties to Blazer Athletics, and that is a credit to Reinhard’s impeccable eye for talent. Kirby Smart, Will Muschamp, Hal Mumme, Chris Hatcher, and the late Mike Leach all made a stop in Blazer Nation. Hatcher is the head football coach at Samford University, and he won a national championship as the Blazers head coach in 2004.

“I am forever grateful to Herb for taking a chance on a 25-year-old coach,” said Hatcher, who also won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the Blazers QB in 1994.  “He was very impactful to me as I was learning how to be a head coach. He has done a tremendous job in leading VSU athletics and has taken all the programs to a level never reached before.  He will be missed, but he has left a legacy that will be hard to duplicate.  Herb Reinhard deserves all the credit in getting VSU athletics to the top of Division II.”

David Dean and Kerwin Bell also won National Championships leading VSU’s football team. Dean was the head coach for the 2007 and 2012 championships, and Bell led VSU to its fourth football national championship in 2018.

“I can’t express enough my appreciation for Herb,” said Dean, who is the head football coach at West Georgia. “He gave me my first opportunity to be a head coach and through our time together was very helpful and supportive. I learned many things from Herb. He is a very well-respected figure not only in the GSC but also in Division II athletics. He has done a marvelous job at VSU, and he is leaving the athletic program at VSU better than he found it. Enjoy your retirement Herb, and job well done!”

Kerwin Bell is the head football coach at Western Carolina University.

“When you think about VSU football, there has been one constant person leading the way these past 30 years,” said Bell. “Herb Reinhard was great to work for and gave me the opportunity to lead this program to the 2018 National Championship. Enjoy your retirement because you deserve it with all the hard work and all the headaches I probably gave you during my 3 years there!”

Gary Goff played for the Blazers in the mid-90s, and as head coach, he led the team to the 2021 National Championship game. He is the head football coach at McNeese State University.

 “I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for Herb,” said Goff. “It is easy to see why he is one of the most successful and respected athletic directors in the nation. His love for Valdosta State and the student athletes is unmatched. He is a great man who challenges everyone to be great every day! He will be sorely missed at VSU, but I’m excited for him to spend more days on the water!”

Reinhard’s eye for coaching talent isn’t just limited to football. Carley Kuhns is a Valdosta State Athletics Hall of Fame basketball player who later became head coach for three seasons. She is the head women’s basketball coach at Samford University.

“I have Herb Reinhard to thank for a lot of reasons,” said Kuhns. “He gave me an incredible experience as a college student athlete, but more importantly took a chance on me and gave me my first head coaching job. There isn’t a D2 athletic department who doesn’t know the name Herb Reinhard. He put Valdosta State on the map, and the consistent dominance of male and female sports on the same campus is remarkable. I would not be where I am today without him, and I want to wish him the best in retirement. He has sure earned it!”

The impact of Reinhard’s leadership is not just felt on the VSU campus. On November 6, 2021, the City of Valdosta declared that day forever be known as Herb Reinhard Day in Valdosta.

Those who have worked with Reinhard the longest have plenty to say about his leadership and friendship.

“Where do I begin, I could write a book about our time together,” said Debbie Wisenbaker, executive assistant to the Chief Athletics Officer. “I began working in VSU Athletics and directly for Herb in mid-February of 1994. We’ve shared a lot of great wins and some hard losses athletically and in life. I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed him mentor or counsel student-athletes, coaches, and staff members. You don’t see him putting himself first. He wants his athletes and his coaches to shine! There is a reason why I have been employed for nearly 31 years at VSU… it’s because of Herb Reinhard.  We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but one thing remains steadfast…loyalty.  He has been my boss, my counselor, my friend, and most of all my Christian brother.  Thank you, Herb, I am truly blessed to have served such a giant of a man.”

Plans regarding a national search for Reinhard’s replacement will be announced later.


Gulf South Conference Championships during Reinard’s tenure

Baseball – 4 (1995, 2002, 2010, 2013) (4-5 in championship games)

Men’s Basketball – 1 (2021) (1-7 in finals)

Football – 9 (1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2010, 2018, 2019, 2021)

Men’s Golf – 5 (1989, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2000)

Men’s Tennis – 15 (1986, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2023 (15-12 in championship match)

Women’s Basketball – 3 (1983, 1984, 2017) (3-5 in championship games)

Women’s Soccer – 1 (2014) (1-1 in championship match)

Softball – 9 (1993, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018) (9-4 in championship games)

Women’s Tennis – 4 (1994, 2005, 2008, 2010) (4-11 in championship matches)

Volleyball – 1 (2014) 1-0 in championship matches)


NCAA National Championship during Reinhard’s tenure

Men’s Tennis – 5 (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2023) (2-3)

Baseball – 1 (1979) (1-0)

Football – 6 (2002, 2004, 2007, 2012, 2018, 2021) (4-2)

Softball – 3 (2010, 2012, 2014) (1-2)


Total Championship appearances – 15 (8-7)

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