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Academy Sports CEO departs; succeeded by well-known retail veteran

BY Marianne Wilson

The chief executive of Academy Sports + Outdoors is leaving to pursue “another opportunity.”

Academy said that J.K. Symancyk has resigned as CEO. The sporting goods retailer has appointed well-regarded industry veteran Ken C. Hicks as chairman and CEO. Hicks, a recent member of the Academy board, has over three decades of senior merchandising, marketing and operational experience in the retail industry. From 2009 until 2014, he served as president and CEO of Foot Locker, during which time he is credited with dramatically growing the company’s sales and earnings.

Prior to Foot Locker, Hicks served in leadership positions at several major retail companies, including J.C. Penney, Payless ShoeSource, Home Shopping Network and May Department Stores.

“I grew up in Houston with Academy, and I know this company is special because of our mission, values, and people,” said Hicks. “Our philosophy of making sports and outdoors accessible for all for less is differentiated in today’s retail market, and our focus on our customers will continue to drive our success. The Board and I are extremely grateful for J.K.’s leadership, the senior team he’s built, and how he’s helped position the company for future growth.”

Symancyk was named CEO of Academy in late 2015. He joined the sporting goods retailer after several years serving as president at Meijer Inc.

Academy operates some 250 stores.

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