Firnbach, who has been at Life in a variety of roles since 1991, had been the university’s associate athletic director and associate head coach of the Running Eagles’ men’s basketball team.
“I’ve got some big shoes to fill with the incredible job that coach Barrett did in rebuilding the athletic department,” Firnbach said in a university release, “but he has done a tremendous job preparing me for this role and I’m confident our student-athletes will continue to have success, both in the arena and in the classroom.”
Barrett will remain at Life as the men’s basketball coach, and he will transition into a new role in the office of university president Dr. Guy F. Riekeman.
Life also announced that Dan Payne, director of the university’s celebrated rugby program, will be given the added title of associate athletic director.
Barrett, whose ties with Marietta go decades back, including a time assisting legendary Marietta High School boys basketball coach Charlie Hood, has been at Life since 1991.
A member of the Life coaching staff under former Running Eagles coach Roger Kaiser, in the program’s days as an NAIA powerhouse, Barrett remained at the university during its issues with accreditation and was installed as athletic director in 2007, with the rebirth of the Running Eagles’ athletic department.
In Barrett’s time as AD, Life athletics have grown from men’s basketball to also include men’s and women’s wrestling and rugby as intercollegiate offerings, as well as women’s cross country, swimming and track and field.
Since Barrett took the reins of the reborn men’s basketball team, and the Running Eagles played their first game in 2008, Life has won three conference championships and earned berths into the NAIA tournament each season.
“In my mind, I had a time frame for getting to this point,” Barrett said in the release. “When Dr. Riekeman approached me about restarting the program, my vision was to restore Life U. to prominence in the NAIA in multiple sports. I feel like we have done that through the dedication of so many of our coaches, staff and student-athletes.”
Riekeman said Barrett has been “a huge part of Life” since he first came to the university, adding, “I’m glad he has agreed to stay with us and continue to provide his expertise.”