Gettysburg High School has a new athletic director as it heads to a new athletic league.

The Gettysburg Area School District board of education approved Mike Williams as its new athletic director, 8-0, Monday night. He joins the Warriors after working within the Howard, Md., County Public School System since 1975.

His background includes 31 years as a coach and athletic director at Glenelg and Oakland Mills high schools. The Baltimore Sun named him a coach of the year five times and the Washington Post three more.

In 2005, Williams, began working as coordinator of athletics for Howard County, where he oversees 12 athletic directors, but will retire from that position to pursue this one.

"I'm excited about the opportunity," he said. "It's a chance not only to work more closely with the students but to work more closely with the coaches."

Board president Todd Orner said Williams' extensive experience was a positive after the athletic director position has undergone challenging turnover recently.

Carlos Wampler retired in 2011, but his replacement, Chris Hastings, was fired less than a year later. Wampler plans to retire again but will spend three months helping Williams become acclimated.

Meanwhile, Gettysburg will compete in the Mid-Penn Conference in 2013-14 before moving to the YAIAA the next year.

"Mr. Williams has current experience in how things work," Orner said. "One of the challenges with Mr. Hastings was, while he had experience, his experience was a number of years old. One of the challenges was the way the Mid-Penn did things eight to 10 years previously was different to now.

"With Mr. Williams, he is up to date with athletics. It's all he's done for several years."

Orner and Gettysburg superintendent Larry Redding also believe Williams will help Gettysburg create equal access for students with disabilities to extracurricular opportunities, which the U.S. Department of Education said in late January was needed. Maryland had previously implemented a similar law.

"By coincidence, one of the counties that led the way in providing opportunities for students inMaryland was Howard County," Redding said. "He's absolutely the best person to lead our district. I think it'll be an asset to have him working here in Adams County."

Added Williams: "I have pretty extensive background in it from (implementing) wheelchair track to the interscholastic program. We've been doing something in Howard County since 2007. My program is probably more comprehensive than anyone in the state of Maryland."

Hiring Williams comes after more than a year of waiting.

He and his wife, Carol, became smitten with the Gettysburg area because of its access to outdoors activities, and they moved there about six years ago.

"She started looking at houses, and I shrugged my shoulders," Williams said. "All of a sudden, I was being dragged around to one house for sale or another."

His round-trip commute, however, became about three hours.

Williams eventually spoke with Gettysburg assistant principal John Lewis about potentially working as an athletic director after Wampler announced his first retirement, but the board decided to hire Hastings instead.

When Wampler was brought back, Redding asked Williams if he would be interested. Williams said contact him a year later, which led to a conversation in November. The board met him a few weeks later.

The move saves the district money because Williams will be a contracted employee not due benefits, which he will receive in retirement from his position in Howard County. Redding believes the savings are just an added bonus to hiring Williams, who was up for a five-year contract.

"The one lesson that we learned after Carlos retired after the first time: There's a high demand from our coaches and our community for expertise," Redding said. "With the budget cuts placing limits, the depth and wealth of knowledge he's able to bring is a great asset for our district. I think the board has made a fantastic offer to a fantastic individual."

dpaulling@eveningsun.com; 717-637-3736, extension 144. Twitter: @DanielPaulling.