MILWAUKEE -- Former Notre Dame and NFL player Larry Williams was named the new vice president and director of athletics at Marquette on Monday, putting him in charge of a program that is known for its success on the basketball court -- and is still facing tough questions off it.
Williams has been the director of athletics and recreation at the University of Portland since 2004.
He becomes the permanent replacement for Steve Cottingham, who resigned in June as school and athletic department officials faced questions about how they handled two cases of alleged sexual assault involving athletes.
"Marquette is one of the elite names in collegiate athletics," Williams said in a statement. "But after getting to know the people here, it was clear to me that this was a program with not only a storied history, but an extremely bright future. Just as importantly, it was a place my family and I could call home."
Williams was a standout offensive lineman at Notre Dame and went on to play in the NFL. He earned a law degree from the University of San Diego during his pro football career.
Despite losing men's basketball coach Tom Crean to Indiana, the Golden Eagles have sustained their success under Crean's replacement, Buzz Williams. But the school's image has been tarnished by criticism for the way officials handled recent sexual assault allegations against unidentified athletes.
In May, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said law enforcement couldn't adequately investigate because Marquette's public safety department didn't tell authorities of the allegations and therefore he couldn't file charges.
The school had previously advised students of options available, including reporting the allegations to the police department. The school has since changed its protocol to start notifying police immediately of sexual assault allegations.
The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing the school's handling of the incidents.
Deputy athletic director Mike Broeker has been the school's acting athletic director in the wake of Cottingham's resignation.
Williams will begin Jan. 2 and report directly to Marquette President Scott Pilarz.
A native of Santa Ana, Calif., Williams and his wife, Laura Lee Williams, have five children.
After his playing career, Williams practiced law for an Indianapolis-based firm, then returned to Notre Dame to work on licensing and product marketing for the athletic department.
Allie McGuire, the son of the late Marquette coach Al McGuire, chaired the school's search committee. Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a former Marquette player and current school trustee, was a member of the committee.
"I was extremely impressed with Larry's fierce commitment to the values that have always distinguished Marquette, and to the vision he shares with Father Pilarz -- for our student athletes to have a transformational education and for our teams to succeed as national leaders in athletics," McGuire said in a statement. "He'll be a great fit at Marquette."