Updating facilities, increasing fan engagement and investing in student-athletes are just a few of the goals Schemmel wants to achieve as AD for USD. In this new era for USD Athletics, Schemmel is poised to lead the charge.

“This is an exciting time for USD,” said President Sheila K. Gestring. “Our athletics program continues to reach new heights, and I’m confident that with Jon’s leadership we will further that success.”

Schemmel returns to USD after serving as the president and CEO and vice president of institutional advancement at the Dakota State University Foundation & Alumni Association.

“Leaving athletics for three years and serving on a cabinet at Dakota State University allowed me to see athletics from a different perspective,” said Schemmel. “I gained insight into how a university operates beyond just the athletic department. It taught me to be more intentional about building genuine relationships across campus and engaging with the community in a meaningful way. This broader perspective influences how we approach engagement initiatives now, and we’re focusing on organic interactions rather than transactional ones.”

Previously, Schemmel worked at USD as the senior associate athletic director for development from 2012-2017. In this role, Schemmel served on the senior executive teams for the USD Foundation and the USD Department of Athletics and was involved in strategic planning for both teams. He was instrumental in securing funds for the Sanford Coyote Sports Center, Lillibridge Track Complex and Gottsleben Field, and First Bank & Trust Soccer Complex.

Jon Schemmel stands next to President Sheila K. Gestring. They hold up a number 14 football jersey and smile for a photo.“I didn’t think the AD position would ever come open to be honest, but when it did, I was very excited to come back,” Schemmel said. “I was at USD for seven years, so it feels like my family is coming home. I have more pride in this place than anywhere else, and we love the Vermillion community. We’re really happy to be here and look forward to being here for a long time.”

Though Schemmel’s father and brother are also in the industry – his father has decades of experience in college athletics and his brother is the deputy AD for Tulane University after more than 10 years in athletics at Northern Iowa – Schemmel said his return to athletics was more about the fit, feel and the impact he could make than continuing a family legacy.

“Returning to USD feels like coming full circle,” said Schemmel. “USD has endless potential. It’s the perfect blend of a big university with a small, comfortable feel. I don’t think we’ve even begun to scratch the surface of how far we can go with our brand. When you’re carrying the big three with the Beacom School of Business, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, and everything around it, we’re pretty boundless at that point, and that’s the part that excites me.”

Always “looking ahead to what’s next,” Schemmel has big goals for the university’s athletic department.

“Setting a vision and driving progress is what excites me the most,” Schemmel said. “I’m thrilled to collaborate with university stakeholders to establish a clear direction for our department, focusing on initiatives like enhancing our facilities. Being a builder, I aim to cultivate a unified culture within our department where success is defined collectively, and every member supports one another. Ultimately, I envision USD becoming the standard of excellence in collegiate athletics, and I’m committed to making that vision a reality.”

One of the updates to facilities Schemmel would like to see is fully dedicating the DakotaDome to a “turf-down” facility by installing permanent turf, focusing primarily on Coyote football and transforming the Dome into the premier football facility in the state. It will also create better year-round spaces for soccer, softball, youth sports and much more.

For this to happen, a new indoor facility would be built for indoor sports teams, better showcasing the talent of USD’s student-athletes while investing in surfaces and spaces that last longer, prioritize safety and support the needs of each sport.

“Ultimately, our goal is to enhance efficiency and sustainability while maximizing resources, including staff time and budget allocation,” said Schemmel. “We’re focused on improving our revenue streams across the board – including ticket sales, fundraising and sponsorships – to lighten the financial burden on the university and ensure long-term success.”

Schemmel is also excited to unveil a new set of black uniforms for the football team at its season opener against Northern State.

“It’s going to be a really fun fall,” Schemmel said.

For all that Schemmel would like to achieve, he understands that it can’t be done without the support of the Coyote community.

“Vermillion’s small size fosters a strong sense of connectivity and pride within the community, including its alumni,” said Schemmel. “Our alumni community plays a pivotal role in our success, with their support benefiting various facets of the university, from academics to athletics. They are the driving force behind our endeavors, whether through attending events, financial contributions or simply showing pride in their alma mater.”

Prior to his position at DSU, Schemmel served as senior associate athletic director and assistant vice president for development at Miami University. He was also a consultant for College Sports Solutions, focusing on external revenue aspects of collegiate athletic departments and conference alignment and being involved in various search processes with Division I athletic directors.

Schemmel holds a B.A. in public administration from San Diego State University.

As a student-athlete, he played Division I and Division II baseball before beginning his professional career in professional baseball, playing for the New York Mets and San Diego Padres organizations.

Family Man

Jon Schemmel with his wife, Heidi, and son, Jamison.Though Schemmel is someone who “lives and breathes his work,” in his spare time, he said he cherishes his time with his wife, Heidi, and son, Jamison.

“Aside from family time, I enjoy playing golf, watching Jamison play various sports and spending evenings with friends. A perfect day for me involves a few holes of golf, a stroll downtown, perhaps a couple drinks and a bonfire at night. It’s a simple lifestyle, but one we’ve grown to love,” Schemmel said.

What You Might Not Know

Something Schemmel would like the Coyote community to know is that “despite his driven nature and reputation,” he’s an empathetic person at heart.

“I’m not afraid to show emotion, and I often find myself being the crier in our relationship. Heidi would definitely tell you I am an over-sharer, instead of just over-communicating or being too transparent as I like to call it!”

“On a lighter note, I have a tattoo and plan to get more, possibly dedicating some to athletics and honoring our student-athletes.”

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