ST. BONAVENTURE — St. Bonaventure University President Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., announced the impending departure of athletic director Steve Watson, who has accepted an offer for the same position at Loyola University Chicago.

“Steve’s success at St. Bonaventure has opened many doors for him,” said Sr. Margaret. “While it’s always difficult to say goodbye to a senior administrator, we do so with gratitude for his contributions here.”

Watson thanked “all of the amazing people I have worked with at St. Bonaventure.”

“Our athletics staff and coaches are second to none,” Watson said. “It has been a privilege to work side by side with some of the best in the business. Sr. Margaret gave me the opportunity to come home almost eight years ago and for that I will be forever grateful.

“I also want to thank the community and alumni for all their support during my time at Bona’s. St. Bonaventure fans and alums have been amazingly supportive to me and my family. While Chicago will be our new home, our ties to this community will always remain strong.”

Sr. Margaret credited Watson with “strengthening our position” with alumni, even “healing some significant relationships.”

“Steve engendered confidence with our alumni, and that’s evidenced in his leadership of the successful campaigns we’ve had to upgrade some of our athletics facilities,” she said. “He also played an active and supportive role in athletics, becoming a better partner with other divisions at the university.”

Under Watson’s leadership, a new basketball court was dedicated to Bob Lanier (2007); a new women’s basketball locker room was built (2013); and the first phase of the Marra Athletics Fields Complex was completed (2014). He also oversaw the resurrection of St. Bonaventure’s basketball programs, culminated by the 2011-12 season that sent both the men’s and women’s teams to the NCAA Tournament.

“Steve has set us up to recruit another highly talented leader for athletics, which is the true mark of success,” Sr. Margaret said. “We wish Steve, his wife Ann, and their children nothing but the best and all the blessings in the world.”

University administrators will convene this week to discuss plans to name an interim athletic director and to engage in a search to find the university’s next athletic director.