By The Numbers: A Look at the Success and Growth of Our Past NEXT UP Honorees

June 26th, 2018 | by CollegeAD
By The Numbers: A Look at the Success and Growth of Our Past NEXT UP Honorees

next up honorees

College athletics is a sprawling landscape. No matter where you look there is a unique story, and not just among the athletes and coaches, but also for the people behind the scenes. Three years ago, we started the NEXT UP series to highlight a few of these stories, our NEXT UP honorees. The goal was not much different from the goals of the industry we cover. We wanted to celebrate the best of the best, the champions among us.

When looking back on the stories we’ve told and how far our NEXT UP honorees have come since then, well, it can be a little overwhelming. But again, like the industry we cover, numbers can sometimes tell the story for us. So, why don’t we check the box score?

next up honorees

Before we really dive in, let’s share a few numbers of our own. When we began the NEXT UP series, we never set a maximum or minimum number of recipients for each class. The idea was that it shouldn’t be a quota-based award, no more, no less. Naturally, this led to a large inaugural class in 2016 because, at the time, there were a number of people overdue for recognition. That first class consisted of 21 honorees and would be followed up in 2017 by a class of 13. This means in total, we have named 34 honorees to our NEXT UP list.

The concept behind the NEXT UP list is to point out individuals we feel are ready to take that next step and become athletic directors of their own programs. We are proud to say that, to date, nearly one-third of our NEXT UP honorees have gotten that call. As a matter of fact, nine members of the 2016 class are now athletic directors, three of those with Power 5 programs.

next up honorees

Interestingly, of the ten individuals who have been named athletic directors to date, five have come from SEC schools. Of the remaining NEXT UP honorees who have not been handed the keys to their own program, five have been asked to fill in as interim athletic directors.

As ready as our NEXT UP honorees are, it’s important to point out that the path to the AD chair isn’t always a direct shot, and in some cases isn’t even the destination. After being featured, five past honorees have been promoted or transitioned to senior level positions in other athletic departments. Another three have left the industry altogether, with Rocky Harris most notably being named the CEO of USA Triathlon.

next up honorees

Although we promised to stick to the numbers, there is one highlight worth mentioning. Promotions are common in college athletics administration, but it is not often we see a university name a current employee as their new AD. That’s why, despite being deserving and expected by many, Jeremiah Donati’s promotion from deputy athletic director to the big chair at TCU was of special note.

Lastly, we would have to mention the people actually nominating our honorees. Each year we approach a handful of sitting ADs to sit on our selection committee. Including this year’s class, 21 athletic directors have served on our panel and this year, for the first time, members of the previous two NEXT UP classes contributed to the nomination process.

next up honorees
So, that’s it. The tale of the tape. Tomorrow we begin to unveil the 2018 NEXT UP class presented by adidas, and if the past is any indication, we expect to put up some impressive numbers.

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