College AD’s Early Candidates for Texas Athletic Director

September 15th, 2015 | by Ryan Conway
College AD’s Early Candidates for Texas Athletic Director
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Steve Patterson being relieved of his duties as Texas Athletic Director by university President Gregory L. Fenves naturally leads to a question, who will be the next person to lead the second highest revenue generating athletic department in college sports and what does that athletic director profile look like?

College AD reached out to a number of athletic directors across the country at the Power 5, Group 5 and FCS level to gather their thoughts on candidates, and what the profile should look like for the next Texas Athletic Director. As always our sources remain anonymous, but rest assured, the six quotes below, pulled from a number of conversations with athletic directors, come from a well-rounded group of NCAA leaders.

1. Texas is job where they have to go back to a traditional AD….and they can’t get stuck on a “Texas guy”.  The Steve Patterson hire was wrong from the start….bad fit.”

2. “To be the AD at a Texas type institution takes a combo of several CEO-like qualities. It is imperative to know the “business” of college athletics but also communicate the knowlege of the job. The AD at Texas must exude strong leadership qualities, understand and have the ability to work with campus partners and key stakeholders, practice financial management and revenue generation within the realm of the educational campus model, while placing the student-athlete experience first. It is not necessarily important to be an alum, but the most successful candidates MUST be a “fit” and understand the business and educational model of one of the most successful, high profile (and scrutinized ) athletic programs in the country.”

3. “The new Athletic Director needs to be great with donors very approachable and must be willing to fit into existing Texas culture.”

4. “The next AD has to be a person that has the ability to work the high-end Texas contributor and be able to work well with basketball coach Shaka Smart and football coach Charlie Strong.”

5. “He or she is going to need to be a great communicator and consensus builder and have more experience on a college campus in order to have the know how to effectively navigate the political waters of a campus environment.

6. The only folks that are accustomed to dealing  with this vast number of constituencies are individuals who have done this and that is sitting AD’s.  Often University presidents say “I want someone who can raise money.” What they need to say is “I want someone who can build and develop an infrastructure that is so good that we have the framework and foundation to now go out and raise money”.  

From these conversations College AD compiled a list of early candidates for the position. We’ve also provided some “spin” on each candidate, for why or why not he could become the next UT Athletic Director. In the mean time, Mike Perrin is expected to be named as the Longhorns Interim AD until a full time replacement has been found. The list is presented in alphabetical order.

[UPDATE] 9:19 CST September 15, 2015

The university, through a statement on its website announced that Mike Perrin will serve as Interim Athletic Director.

Whit Babcock- Director of Athletics, Virginia Tech

alden's army

Whit Babcock was officially announced as Virginia Tech’s Director of Athletics on Jan. 24, 2014.  Babcock,  joined the Hokies following two and a half years at the University of Cincinnati, where he served as the Director of Athletics, and five years at the University of Missouri, where he served as the executive associate director of athletics. In his second year in Blacksburg, he oversaw the completion of a new $21.3 million indoor practice facility. Babcock is a past president of the National Association of Athletic Department Directors.

 

Spin- Babcock possesses a proven track record growing and running structurally sound athletic departments from his time at the University of Cincinnati and currently at Virginia Tech. Babcock has past experience within the Big 12, serving as Executive Associate Director of Athletics at Missouri from 2007-2011. If that resume isn’t enough for you, just hear what his former boss and mentor, Mike Alden, had to say about him in May, when College AD spoke with Mike Alden and Whit Babcock in Alden’s Army: The Lasting Legacy of Mike Alden And His Army Of ADs

 

Ross Bjork- Director of Athletics, University of Mississippi

 

Ross Bjork was announced on March 21, 2012 as the seventh full-time Director of Athletics at Ole Miss and at age 43, is the youngest AD among power five conference institutions. Bjork created the unit for Health and Sports Performance, which combined sports medicine, strength and conditioning, nutrition and counseling services and added a local orthopedic sports medicine component that provides primary sports medicine care for all student-athletes. In his first year at Ole Miss he and his team set records for cash donations ($26 million) and number of annual fund members (7,412). Bjork has also overseen a $12.5 million renovation to the Manning Center and raised Ole Miss’ athletics budget from $62 million to $96 million. He is the chair of the SEC awards committee and has a member of NCAA committees for basketball and recruiting.

 

Spin- A proven fundraiser, listed in College AD’s, January 2015 analysis of The 10 Best Fundraising Athletic Directors in College Athletics. His current effort is leading the “Forward Together Campaign” which has risen over $125 million in total cash and pledges of the $150 million goal. Bjork is building something great at Ole Miss. Bjork, another member of Alden’s Army  was reportedly, sought after this spring to replace Mike Alden at the University of Missouri, Bjork opted to stay at Ole Miss signing a 4-year contract extension. It might prove difficult for the University of Texas to pull Bjork out of Oxford.

 

Greg Byrne- Vice President for Athletics, University of Arizona

Greg Byrne was named Arizona’s 11th Director of Athletics in March 2010 and officially started in that role on May 3, 2010. Byrne, has overseen construction completed on the $72 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, the addition of two video boards in Arizona Stadium, and a new scoreboard in the McKale Center. The athletics department also finished off Phase I of an overall $80 million renovation project for McKale. Byrne has also helped the Wildcat baseball program move from an on-campus facility to its new home, the historic Hi Corbett Field in midtown Tuscon. An outstanding fundraiser, he has been directly involved in raising over $200 million in gifts during his career.

 Spin- Byrne has an impressive track record hiring the right coaches to turnaround programs, from Rich Rodriguez to Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, a quality that may come into play for the future, as there are a number of fledgling programs within the Texas athletic department.

 

John Currie- Athletic Director, Kansas State

fundraising athletic director

Currie, who was hired in 2009 to lead the Wildcat athletic department has overseen $192 million in comprehensive facility improvements during his time in Manhattan.  In 2013 he was the Bobby Dodd AD Award winner as well as a 2013 Under Armour AD of the Year. He has also served as chair of the Big XII AD’s in 2013-2014 and is a member of the NCAA Division I Administrative Cabinet.

Spin- Another proven fundraiser, listed in College AD’s, January 2015 analysis the The 10 Best Fundraising Athletic Directors in College Athletics. K-State has raised more than $143 million in total gifts in his five years including FY14’s cash total exceeding $46 million – almost quadrupling the annual amount prior to his arrival. This is the type of fundraiser every president would want; however, revenue generation may not be the most pressing concern to get the Texas athletic department back on course.

[UPDATE]: 6:05 PM CST September 15h, 2015

Texas Athletic Director

Chris Del Conte- Director of Athletics, Texas Christian University

Chris Del Conte was appointed TCU’s director of intercollegiate athletics in October 2009. During his time in Fort Worth, Del Conte has guided TCU into the Big XII and overseen over $250 million worth of construction projects. Projects included the $164 million new Amon G. Carter Stadium, a $72 million renovation to the basketball facility , a $7.5 million upgrade to TCU’s baseball stadium and nearly $6 million between the soccer stadium and G. Malcolm Louden Player Development Center for Baseball. He also seen a record $12.1 million raised in scholarship contributions. In 2015, Del Conte was named as a NACDA Under Armour AD of the Year award recipient and won the Bobby Dodd Division I-A Athletic Directors’s Award in 2010.

Spin- Del Conte has spent most of his career in the state of Texas, serving as athletic director at both TCU and Rice University. Del Conte has taken TCU to unforeseen heights under his tenure. He also developed strong ties with the University of Texas when he pushed for TCU to gain admission into the Big 12. It’s safe to say he’s ruminated on how far he could take the Texas athletic department with that type of budget.

Oliver Luck- Executive Vice President Regulatory Affairs, NCAA

texas athletic director
Oliver Luck joined the NCAA as Executive Vice President in January 2015 where he is responsible for regulatory affairs. Prior to joining the NCAA, Luck was the athletics director at  West Virginia University. He has also served as President and General Manager of the Houston Dynamo, CEO of Houston Sports Authority  and worked for the NFL. Luck was also a member of the first College Football Playoff Committee, but stepped down to accept his current position with the NCAA.

 

Spin- Passed over for the job the first go around, after reportedly being recommended for the Texas Athletic Director position, Oliver Luck brings proven AD experience to table. Add to that, a deeper understanding of the NCAA, since serving as Executive Vice President for Regulatory Affairs and the University of Texas could have a chance to right its wrongs and get an even more capable Oliver Luck than three years prior.

 

Jim Phillips- Athletic Director, Northwestern University

texas athletic director
James J. Phillips became Northwestern’s 21st director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation on April 14, 2008. Four years into his tenure, Northwestern President Morton Schapiro elevated Phillips to the position of Vice President for Athletics & Recreation. During the course of his Northwestern tenure, Phillips has completed a two-year stint as the Athletic Director Chair of the Big Ten Conference, representing the league’s A.D.’s on the Executive Committee of the B1G Joint Group, while simultaneously working as a member of the Rose Bowl Management Committee. Among Phillips’ accomplishments include doubling Northwestern’s football season ticket base over the last six seasons and a multi million dollar partnership with Under Amrour, making the company the official outfitter of NU athletics. In February of 2015, Phillips was elected to chair the new National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Council, and serves as the representative athletic director on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. As chair, Phillips oversees the day-to-day business of the division, a roster of 345 colleges and universities. Phillips guides the group in its duties, including building much of the substructure and creating an effective relationship with the Board of Directors as well as championships, budgeting and student-athlete well-being issues.

 

Spin- Jim Philips would come to the University of Texas not only with a wealth of knowledge after serving as athletic director at Northwestern for seven years, but he would pull from his experience heading up numerous committees. Philips also understands what it means to serve as Director of Athletics for a top tier academic institution like Northwestern, which would fit well with the University of Texas academic profile.

 

 

About Ryan Conway
Ryan Conway founded College AD in September of 2013. Ryan launched College AD with the goal of providing hard working college athletic department personnel with the latest industry news to help further their careers. Ryan has spent most of his career working in, or around college athletics. He has worked in the Southeastern Conference, the Southern Conference, and the Sun Belt Conference.

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