It’s the final day of College AD’s first annual NEXT UP presented by Teamworks. As a parting gift, we’ve opted to throw in an extra honoree, bringing the final day’s total to five. You can read about all 21 or our NEXT UP recipients at the following pages; Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.
As a reminder, NEXT UP are senior level administrators, handpicked by some of the most respected athletic directors in the industry, who are believed to be ready to take the next step as athletic directors in their own right. Out of those nominated by our panel, we selected 21 NEXT UP recipients from across the country to represent this year’s class. The only limiting factor is that none of the nominees could have served as an AD previously, beyond an interim role.
Out of respect for our seven panel members we are keeping their names anonymous, but we’re more than happy to share a few stats on what qualifies them to spot up-and-coming talent.
Without further ado, here are the final five members of the 2016 class of NEXT UP presented by Teamworks.
Senior Associate AD
Career to Date: North Carolina (2015- Present); Oklahoma- Senior Associate AD/SWA (2004- 2015)
Appointments & Accomplishments: Ph.D. from Missouri in counseling psychology with an emphasis in sport psychology
Strengths: Strategic Planning, Student Welfare
Why is she NEXT UP?: “Nicki brings a wealth of experience to college athletics as an elite-level athlete, a long-time administrator and a psychologist,” says UNC AD, Bubba Cunningham. “She cares deeply about the welfare of students and offers unique insight into developing strategies to maximize their pursuits academically, athletically and socially. She has made a significant impact on our department in her first year and I am certain that she will someday make an outstanding director of athletics should she pursue such an opportunity.”
Deputy Director of Athletics, Chief of Staff
Career to Date: Texas A&M (2012- Present); South Carolina- Deputy Director of Athletics (2008- 2012); TCU- Associate Director of Athletics (1999- 2008)
Strengths: Operations, Leadership
Why is she NEXT UP?: It hasn’t taken long for new Texas A&M AD, Scott Woodward to recognize the talent he had in Marcy Girton. “Marcy Girton has a wealth of experience at three of the top athletics departments in the country in Texas A&M, South Carolina and TCU.” It’s that experience that’s put her in position to run the day-to-day operations of A&M’s athletic department, but it’s her work ethic and commitment that have made her Woodward’s go-to. “She works tirelessly on behalf of our coaches and student-athletes to provide them with the best opportunities to succeed in competition, in the classroom and in life.”
Executive Senior Associate AD
Career to Date: Texas (2011- Present); Georgia- Associate AD for Internal Operations (2005- 2011); Texas- Assistant AD Football Operations (1999- 2005)
Appointments & Accomplishments: American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Black Coaches Association, AFCA Football Operations Committee
Strengths: Operations, Leadership
Why is he NEXT UP?: It’s been said that during the turmoil of the Steve Patterson era at Texas, as Patterson tended to business matters he felt more important than actually running his department, Arthur Johnson became a sort of defacto athletic director. When you consider his regular duties, combined with the fact that coaches were reporting directly to Johnson, including the newly arrived Charlie Strong, it’s no wonder his name comes up on occasion as a future replacement for current Texas AD Mike Perrin. Whether those designs come to fruition or not though, Johnson certainly has Perrin’s support. “I was pleased to learn of the selection of Arthur Johnson in the NEXT UP class. Arthur provides clear, strong leadership in all aspects of athletics. sports administration, facilities construction and oversight, compliance, HR, budget, and revenue-his skills are wide, deep and ever growing. His pleasant, helpful, collaborative personality fosters teamwork. I am proud to call him my friend. He is most deserving of recognition.”
Executive Associate AD
Career to Date: Florida (1993- Present); Ball State- Assistant to the Athletics Director (1992- 1993)
Strengths: Marketing, Media Rights
Why is he NEXT UP?: Of all the individuals recognized in this year’s NEXT UP class, Mike Hill may be the quickest to ascend to the AD chair. With the announcement of current Florida AD Jeremy Foley’s retirement, it’s only natural that one of the most successful programs of the last two decades might look inward for a replacement. With more than 22 years at Florida, having been hired and groomed by Foley himself, Hill is as likely a candidate as any. Rumored to be considered for the head job at Clemson in 2012, Hill’s phone has likely rung on multiple occasions with schools inquiring about his services. While it’s no certainty he will even be considered to lead the Gator’s program, with Foley reportedly playing a role in the selection process, one has to like Hill’s chances.
Senior Associate AD of Development
Career to Date: Oklahoma (2012- Present); Dallas Cowboys- Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships and Sales (2008- 2012); Alabama- General Manager Crimson Tide Sports Marketing (2004-2008); ESPN- Sports Sales Manager (2003- 2004); USC- Associate Athletic Director (2000- 2003)
Why is he NEXT UP?: Just glancing at Alford’s resume, it’s clear he doesn’t shy away from the spotlight of a high profile program. And although it could be argued that programs like Alabama and Oklahoma sell themselves, he’s still been able to set new records for fundraising. In back-to-back years, 2013-14, the Sooner Club set new records for giving in both dollar amount, and in total donors. But his most important work might be the Varsity “O” Association, that strives to create lifelong ambassadors out of former Sooner student-athletes. In all, his career path has been impressive and riddled with experiences that have broadened his knowledge and skillset. “Throughout Michael’s career he has intentionally committed to professional development,” says OU AD Joe Castiglione. “Many talk about doing it, but he made it a priority. His career journey is a terrific example of opening oneself to challenging opportunities, building relationships, and then using those experiences in preparation for the ultimate role of leading an athletic program”
Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to all of the athletic directors who chose candidates and provided quotes. Without you, none of this would have been possible.