Dec 01, 2014

Athletic Director to Retire, Interim Announced

Pictured: Coach Louis Conner (left) and Coach Johnny Littrell (right).

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. - Nov. 26, 2014) - - - After 26 years at Columbia State Community College, athletic director, Coach Louis Conner will hang up his jersey at the end of December. Head softball coach, Johnny Littrell will step up to fill his shoes as the interim athletic director.

"I didn't look at working at Columbia State as a job, because I love what I do, and I met many people over the years who became my friends," Conner said. "I had multiple opportunities to go other places in my time at Columbia State, but I turned them down because I knew I wouldn't feel at home. Columbia State is part of me. I wouldn't change a thing."

Also an instructor of physical education, Conner coached men's basketball at Columbia State from 1988-2005, when he was promoted to athletic director. He also stepped in as the women's basketball coach for a brief period of time.

"The college is very thankful to Coach Louis Conner for the dedication and commitment he has given Columbia State, and for his leadership that has positively impacted numerous students," said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. "We wish him well in his retirement."

Before his tenure at Columbia State, he was a middle and high school teacher in Marshall County, where he also coached basketball and football. Conner also played men's basketball at Columbia State as a student.

Conner said he is proud of his coaching staff and feels they're doing a great job. He noted that our nationally ranked teams have brought the program to a new level, and he feels Littrell will do a great job.

"I work with great coaches, and Columbia State's athletic program is at a place where it can get better and better," Conner said. "Johnny is a good business man and person, and he will catch on to the administrative side quickly. I feel he can step right in and take it up a notch."

Conner said he recalls meeting Littrell years ago when they played men's slow-pitch softball together, both of whom said they played for the love of the game.

"We are pleased that Coach Johnny Littrell has agreed to continue and expand on the work of Louis Conner as interim athletic director," Smith said.

Littrell, who earned a certificate in engineering from Columbia State, became a business man in Columbia, working his way up from engineer to plant manager to business owner. He said that his experience in business runs parallel to his coaching softball.

"I started out playing baseball and eventually, men's slow pitch softball," Littrell explained. "When my daughter's recreational softball coach was a no-show at the first practice, my instinct took over. The parents helped, and I was asked to become the girls' coach. Since then, I've coached every level of girls' softball, including the highest level of girls' fast-pitch travel ball."

Littrell began coaching at Columbia State 13 years ago. He explained that his experience at Columbia State has allowed him to watch how things were done over the years.

"Louis is a great friend and he's done a great job with our department," Littrell said. "Something is definitely going right, but we also want to make it better. I want to help recruit players and continue to build our teams so that every one of them has the opportunity to gain national recognition. It's about finding those players that fit."

Littrell also wants to increase community involvement with all teams. He will continue to coach women's softball, with the continued support and help from his assistant coaches, Rick Stevens and Lori Lindsey.

Residing in Columbia, Conner said he and his wife, Patricia, and are the proud parents of four sons. He commented that he plans to spend more time with his wife, spoil his 9-month-old grandson and ride his motorcycle. He also has a granddaughter who is majoring in pharmacology at the University of Memphis.

Conner earned an Associate of Science degree from Columbia State, a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Alabama, both in health and physical education, as well as a master's degree in sports management from the United States Sports Academy.

Littrell resides in Columbia with his wife, Lesa. Their two daughters, Krystle and Candis, grew up playing softball and are both Columbia State alumni.

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee's first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, one of the largest higher education systems in the nation. For more information, please visit

Tennessee's Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at

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