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50 Impactful Athletic Directors

By Sully Carter, 09/25/21, 9:45AM PDT

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After much thought, research, and consultation with panelists, media, and coaches, we present the 50 Impactful Athletic Directors List. This list is focused on current Athletics Directors who hold positions at Division I Universities. All of the Athletic Directors on this lis have been with schools that regularly place in the top 50 of the Learfields Directors' Cup and/or continue to make an great impact on their schools and the sports community as a whole.  The list is in alphabetical order by school. 


Greg Byrne - Alabama

Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne has had a storied career in collegiate athletics, spending the last four years of his 25 year career with the Crimson Tide. Since his hire in 2017 Alabama has won a national championship in football, were national champion runners up in football, and have SEC titles in Softball & Track. Byrne has also made some huge hires, including that of men's basketball coach Nate Oats, who has taken the program to new heights. While his athletic teams have seen much success, Byrne’s  most notable accomplishments come outside of sport, having raised over 300 million dollars for facility upgrades.  In 2020-2021, Byrne and Alabama received the Learfield Directors Cup championship. Prior to Alabama Byrne had a storied run at Arizona. 

Dave Heeke - Arizona

SInce 2017, Arizona Athletic Director Dave Heeke has helped take the Arizona Athletics program to an unprecedented level. Seeing postseason success from Softball, Women’s & Men’s Golf, Volleyball, Gymnastics, and Men’s & Women’s basketball. Most recently, the Arizona Women’s Basketball program made an outstanding run to the National Championship game. Heeke has also made huge moves financially, raising over 60 million for the athletic program facilities. His most recent accomplishment, however, has been the finalizing of new Men’s Basketball coach, Tommy Lloyd. Over the past 4 years Heeke has consistently made an appearance in the Learfield Directors Cup top 50.

Hunter Yurachek - Arkansas

Arkansas Director of Athletics, Hunter Yurachek, continues to add to his already impressive career in collegiate athletics. After his hire in 2017, Yurachek has helped bring Arkansas into the national spotlight as a top athletics program in the country and one of the few financially self-sustaining programs around. Winning national championships in Women's Cross Country, Indoor Track & Field, and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field, along with notable success in Football and Men’s basketball, Yurachek has helped grow Arkansas to a versatile powerhouse. His most notable accomplishment Recently may have come during the pandemic when Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson named him Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force.

Ray Anderson - ASU

ASU Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson has spent the past 7 years expanding the Sun Devils Athletics Department into one of the top in the country. While Anderson has seen great game play success across many of the school’s sports, his most notable accomplishments have come in the form of facility development, brand recognition, and fundraising. ASU is one of the more globally recognized athletic departments and Anderson has made it a point to drive the development of world class facilities, many of which are used by Olympic athletes regularly. Since 2014, ASU has seen a continued increase in success across the major sports: Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Football, and Volleyball. Anderson is considered to be one of the most influential minorities in sports.

Allen Greene - Auburn

With 18 years of industry experience, Auburn Director of Athletics is no stranger to success at the collegiate level. Over the past 4 years, he has continued Auburn’s long tradition of elite athletic teams, appearing in the top 50 of the Learfield Directors Cup each year. Under his leadership, Auburn has had 35 programs finish ranked in the top 25 nationally, including 12 programs in the top 10. These include a Final Four appearance from the Men’s Basketball program and a pair of national championships for the Equestrian program. On the fundraising front, Greene has led negotiations reaching a total of $165 Million.

Mack B. Rhoades, IV- Baylor

Baylor Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades has catapulted the program into the national spotlight. In 2019 Baylor was the nation’s only school to finish the calendar year with Football, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Volleyball all nationally ranked. More impressively, all within the top 10. Rhoades has also seen a pair of national championships come from the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Programs. Known as an elite fundraiser, Rhoades has also begun plans for a 100 plus million dollar basketball fieldhouse, which is a part of the 1.1 Billion Dollar “Give Light” campaign. Since his hire, Baylor has been in the top 50 every year.

Patrick Kraft - Boston College

While his time at  Boston College has been short, his early impact has been nothing short of outstanding. In year one Boston College Director of Athletics, Patrick Kraft, has had his program win a National Championship in Women’s Lacrosse, raised close to $10 million in athletic support, and begun construction/planning for multiple new athletic facilities. Before BC, Kraft was successful at Temple where he drastically improved athletics. Kraft led programs have frequented the top 50 list. 

Tom Holmoe - BYU

Rapidly approaching his 20th year as the BYU Director of Athletics, Tim Holmoe has seen national success with Brigham young, including 120 conference regular-season and postseason championships and more than 275 student-athletes who have earned All-America status. Since his hire in 2005, BYU Athletics have been a top 50 finalist in the Learfield Directors Cup every year, frequently appearing in the top 30. 

Jim Knowlton - California

With four years under his belt as the Director of Athletics at one of the largest departments in the country, California AD Jim Knowlton continues to keep Cal at the top of college athletics. As a previous NACDA Athletic Director of the Year Award recipient, Knowlton kept Cal among the top 20 programs each year. Under his leadership, Cal has won multiple national and Pac-12 championships.

Dan Radakovich - Clemson

Spending the past 9 years as the Clemson Director of Athletics, Dan Radakovich has led the university to some of its most successful years, both in sport and in the classroom. His biggest athletic accomplishments come from the multiple National Championships won by the Football team. Off the field, the Clemson Athletic Department as a whole have held above a 3.0 cumulative GPA in each of Radakovich’s 9 years, breaking a record in 2020 with a 3.57 average. Another notable accomplishment has been the collection of over $200 million in fundraising that has led to state of the art facilities and scholarships.

Rick George - Colorado

Since returning to Colorado in 2013 as the Director of Athletics, CU Football Alumni Rick George has helped to transform the department. In his first 1000 days he spearheaded a $156 million Athletic Complex Expansion from creation through approval and fundraising. Within four years of taking over, George saw 13 of his 16 athletic teams become ranked in the top 25, with the majority of these programs competing in the postseason. George has had a versatile career in athletics spending time on the football sideline, MLB front office, and President of the Champions Tour for the PGA. Colorado has remained among the top 50 in the Learfield Directors' Cup for much of George’s career. 

Nina King - Duke

In a field dominated by mostly white men, Nina King joins a small but powerful list of minority women athletic directors. Spending the previous 13 years at Duke under Kevin White, King has made an astounding impact on the Duke athletics department. Now she will have the opportunity to lead the Blue Devils and the hire was considered nationally as an amazing choice. 

Scott Stricklin - Florida

When taking over as the Director of Athletics for Florida in 2016, Scott Stricklin had a long history of athletic dominance to live up to. Not only has he continued the tradition but Stricklin has helped fortify Florida Athletics even further. Since his hire Florida has won five National Championships and 21 Conference Championships. As a school, Florida has won a National Championship in at least one sport for 20 straight years. Even more impressive, Stricklin’s emphasis on academics has boosted Florida to the top ten percent in Men's Basketball, Women’s Golf, Gymnastics, Lacrosse and Volleyball, while posting a department average 3.4 combined GPA. Florida has finished in the top ten of the Learfield Directors' Cup every year of Stricklin’s career, with numerous top 5 finishes along the way.

Josh Whitman - Illinois

In 2016 Illinois Alumnus, Josh Whitman, made his return to the university as the Director of Athletics. Since then, Illinois has seen a major increase in athletic success, especially in Men’s Basketball, and the department has placed among the top 50 schools in the Learfield Directors' Cup each year. On the basketball court Illinois is widely considered one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation, earning a number one seed in the 2020-21 NCAA tournament. Even more impressive, Whitman led one of the nation’s top Covid response programs for college students, delivering more than 23,00 meals to students who were isolated.`

Gary Barta - Iowa

Iowa Director of Athletics has been with the University for an impressive 15 years, many of those with Iowa landing in the top 50 in the Learfield Directors' Cup. Most recently, Iowa has seen great athletic success, claiming four Big Ten championships in 2018-19. Academically, Iowa is among the top schools in the country with a 90 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and 76 percent Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) for a four-class average. UI student-athletes rank higher than the national average in GSR and FGR.

Jaime Pollard - Iowa State

Having the longest tenure in Iowa State history Pollard enters his 17th year as Director of Athletics.  Cyclone student-athletes continue to thrive under Pollard’s leadership nine Cyclone programs boasted perfect 2020 Graduation Success Rate scores of 100% and the school’s four-year Federal Graduation Rate of 72 percent also ranked second among league institutions. One of his major accomplishments includes An investment of more than $320M in new construction and facility renovations impacting nearly every Cyclone sport; the most-recent of which being the $90M, 110,000-square foot, Stark Performance Center which opened in August 2021 to serve every Iowa State student-athlete.

Mitch Barnhart - Kentucky

The longtime Kentucky Athletic Director has run one of the most successful athletic departments in the country for the past 20 years. Barnhart has led the Wildcats to a top 50 finish in the Learfield Directors' Cup every year with most of these in the top 25 and most recently, the top 10. The Kentucky Men’s Basketball is one of the most nationally recognized sports programs and they have begun to make strides across other major sports as well. Academically, the department has held a 3.0 GPA or higher for the past 18 years and on the furndraising front, few universities have raised more for their athletic programs.

Vince Tyra - Louisville

In 2018, Louisville Director of Athletics took over an athletic department that had been plagued with headlining scandals and mishaps due to the Men’s Basketball program. Since then, Tyra has led the Cardinals to become one of the top athletic departments in the country once again with multiple top 35 finishes in the Learfield Directors' Cup since his hire. In 2019, Louisville boasted a 3.254 cumulative GPA for the department and continues to make strides in the classroom.

Scott Woodward- LSU

In 2019, the former Texas A&M Director of Athletics, Scott Woodward, returned to his alma mater to become the new Director of Athletics at LSU. Since his hire, LSU has been among the top 50 schools in the country across all athletics each year and has produced multiple national championships and SEC titles. Prior to LSU, Woodward had great success at both Texas A&M and Washington, winning numerous championships at each school. Woodward is widely praised for his ability to hire big name coaches and for his skill in fundraising and expanding athletic facilities. 

Damon Evans - Maryland

Maryland Director of Athletics Damon Evans has championed more than 10 years as a division I athletic director, starting at Georgia in 2004. Since joining Maryland, Evans has brought the department to a top 50 finish in the Learfield Directors' Cup in each year. As the Director of Athletics at the University of Georgia, Evans saw The Bulldogs win 13 national championships and 19 SEC titles, while annually finishing in the top 10 in the Learfield Directors Cup each year. Evans is considered one of the most influential minorities in sports.

Blake James - Miami

In 2013 James Blake took over as the Director of Athletics for the storied Miami Athletic Department. Over this time, James has led Miami to become one of the top universities in the country once again, capturing five NCAA individual championships, six ACC team titles and 65 individual ACC titles. Outside of winning games, James has led the department to hold a 3.0 average GPA, has helped fundraise millions, has spearheaded outstanding facility upgrades and has boosted fan support significantly.

Warde Manuel - Michigan

As a Michigan alumnus, Warde Manual’s career in athletics came full circle in 2016 when he became the school’s Director of Athletics. Michigan has held a spot as one of the top 50 athletic departments in the country for his career and boasts a self supporting program with a budget of $197 million. Prior to Michigan, Manuel was the Director of Athletics at UCONN where he saw the school win multiple national championships. 

Mark Coyle - Minnesota

Taking over in 2016, Minnesota Director of Athletics has led the program to 15 conference titles, numerous top 50 rankings in the Learfield Directors’ Cup (including a recent top 20 finish) and a school record for department GPA with a combined 3.27. Also impressive, Gopher athletes lead the Big Ten in graduate rate with 92 percent. Before Minnesota Coyle was the Director of Athletics at Syracuse and Boise State where ​​he saw a combined 17 Conference Championships and two National Titles.

John Cohen - Mississippi State

Former Mississippi State Baseball Coach John Cohen took over as the school’s Director of Athletics in 2016 and has since seen unbelievable success with the department. With 5 SEC championships and 35 trips to the postseason, Cohen’s Bulldogs have become a top 50 university in the nation for each of his years. Cohen has also spearheaded MSU’s most recent facility upgrades and has made a name for hiring big time coaches, which is sure to help with the fundraising efforts.

Desiree Reed-Francois - Missouri

With more than 25 years experience in college athletics, Missouri Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois has become a trailblazer in the industry. Previously at UNLV, Reed-Francois was the first Hispanic female and woman of color athletics director among all FBS Schools and she is the first to join the SEC. At UNLV she oversaw the opening of a new, $35 million football complex and successfully negotiated a joint use agreement with the NFL's Oakland Raiders for UNLV's use of the new $2 billion Allegiant Stadium, while also completing more than $70 million in facility upgrades.

Boo Corrigan - NC State

While a relatively new hire at NC State, Boo Corrigan has had an outstanding career to this point. Previously at West Point, Corrigan oversaw one of the greatest eras in program history with 20 Patriot League championships. At NC State he has received national praise for his ability to fundraise in a short amount of time, increasing the total revenue raised by 200 percent. In just two years, the Wolfpack have earned 7 conference championships and show no sign of slowing down.

Trev Alberts - Nebraska

Nebraska new hire Trev Alberts has joined his alma mater as the new Director of Athletics. Prior to this role, the college football hall of fame member helped transition Nebraska Omaha  into a Division one program and secured a conference for all sports teams at the university. With his background as an exceptional athlete and 13 years experience, Alberts is ready to make a huge impact at Nebraska.

Derrick Gragg - Northwestern

In 2021 Derrick Gragg was named Northwestern’s Director of Athletics, a role he is very familiar with with experience at Tulsa and Eastern Michigan. At Tulsa,  Gragg’s Hurricane teams won 19 Conference titles and advanced to postseason competition 53 times. As  the NCAA’s senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement, Gragg has had an astounding impact on college athletics and is well renowned for his representation  and allyship to people of color, women and the LGBTQ community.

John Swarbrick - Notre Dame

An Alumni of Notre Dame, Director of Athletics John Swarbrick has been with the university for the past 13 years. During this time, Swarbrick has led the University to great success in game play, with multiple National Championships, deep postseason runs, and unbelievable season records. In the office, Swarbrick has secured unprecedented deals with Under Armour, ACC network deals, and fundraising. Notre Dame has continuously been among the top Athletic institutions in the country with global recognition.

Gene Smith - Ohio State

With 17 years at Ohio State, Gene Smith boasts one of the most successful Director of Athletic careers in the country. Under Smith, Ohio State has won multiple team and individual national championships, built some of the most renowned athletic facilities, and developed a national brand unlike many. While Football has stood out as of late, Ohio State has made a point to celebrate the success of other sports with 60 plus Olympic athletes coming from the university in the recent 2020 Olympics.

Joe Castiglione - Oklahoma

24 years ago Oklahoma Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione joined the Sooners and has never looked back since. During his tenure Oklahoma has won 20 team National Championships and 97 conference titles. Castiglione’s Sooners have ranked among the top 25 in the Learfield Directors' Cup in 18 of his 23 years, finishing 24th in 2020-21. With numerous AD of the year awards, hundreds of millions raised for the department and the growth of a national powerhouse, Castiglione is one of the most decorated Athletic Directors of all time.

Keith Carter - Ole Miss

After many years of experience behind the scenes as a fundraiser for the university, Keith Carter joined Ole Miss as the Director of Athletics in 2019. The Ole Miss Alumni has made a quick name for himself with  17 of his 18 programs advancing to the postseason. With this came a 22nd-place finish in the 2020-21 Learfield IMG College Directors' Cup standings, the highest ever by a school from Mississippi. As a fundraiser Carter is unmatched and under his guidance, the UM Foundation raised $160 Million in funds.

Rob Mullens - Oregon

Over the past 11 years, Oregon Director of Athletics Rob Mullens has led a momentous charge propelling Oregon even further up the ladder of elite college athletics programs. The Mullens led Ducks have 16 NCAA national championships and have recorded their all-time best finishes in the Learfield Directors’ Cup and finishing in the top 30 each year. Their athletic versatility has been astounding with major accomplishments coming from Women’s Basketball, Men’s Basketball, Football, Track & Field, and more.

Sandy Barber- Penn State

Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barber has achieved one of the most successful careers as an Athletic Director in the country. Prior to her time at Penn State, Barber led California for ten years, regularly making top 25 finishes in the Learfield Directors’ Cup. In 2014 she took over for Penn State and since has won Six National Championships, 28 Big Ten Titles, seven EIVA crowns, and one CHA Championship. Barber has been a trailblazer in the industry with 40 plus years of experience and multiple AD of the year awards or finalist.

John Mack - Princeton

Mack worked as a collegiate athletics administrator at Princeton as well as with the Big Ten Conference and at Northwestern University. He has spent the last decade in the legal field as a practicing lawyer. At Princeton, Mack captained the men’s track and field team. His sprinting played a key role in the team’s success, and he received a 2000 William Winston Roper Trophy as the top male senior student-athlete.

Ray Tanner - South Carolina

South Carolina’s Director Athletics Ray Tanner has spent nine years leading the Gamecocks and has a contract extension keeping him in the athletic director chair until 2024. Under Tanner’s watch, Gamecock student-athletes have achieved tremendous success in intercollegiate athletic competition, in the classroom and in the community. Over 1,700 student-athletes have earned SEC Academic Honor Roll status. USC became the first school in the SEC to guarantee four-year scholarships for all qualifying sports. It also offers former student-athletes the opportunity to return to campus to complete their undergraduate degree as part of the “Gamecock Degree Completion Program.”

Bernard Muir - Stanford

In nine years with the Cardinals Muir has had the most successful stretch in school history, with the school having won 25 NCAA championships and 34 national titles. Stanford has also extended one of the most recognizable streaks in college athletics under Muir’s guidance, winning at least one NCAA team championship in each of the last 45 seasons, the longest such streak in the country.He is a new member added to the Women’s Sports Foundation Board of Trustees as well as a member of the NCAA Gender Equality Task Force committee since 2015. Stanford has been in the top five or top ten for all of Muir’s career.

John Wildhack - Syracuse

Former ESPN executive John Wildhack has been director of athletics for Syracuse since 2016. In Wildhack’s four years, 42 teams have represented Syracuse at national championship events, including 39 NCAA competitions. The Orange have won 23 conference championships (four team, 19 individual) in that span and two national championships. Since his arrival on campus, Wildhack has overseen multiple strategic initiatives to ensure the future success of the department. Among the most impactful have been securing a $118 million investment from the University for enhancements to the Dome and the formation of an in-house production unit.

Jeremiah Donati - TCU

Jeremiah Donati was appointed as TCU’s director of intercollegiate athletics on December 11, 2017. Since his arrival at TCU in 2011, Donati has played a major role in enhancing the TCU student-athlete experience through donor-supported facility upgrades totaling over $400 million.Under Donati, the TCU Athletics program has grown to 22 sports, the most in the Big 12 Conference. The 2020-21 athletics season saw 10 of 21 TCU sports appear in the national top 25 with 13 sports earning postseason representation. TCU set a school record with three Big 12 team championships as conference titles were won in baseball, women’s soccer and men’s tennis.

Danny White - Tennessee

Named University of Tennessee Director of Athletics in January of 2021 Danny White has a lot of success in the industry. He has earned numerous awards such as a Sports Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree in multiple years, a spot on the Orlando Business Journal 40 Under 40 list, multiple selections as one of the 50 Most Powerful People in Orlando by Orlando Magazine and he was a finalist for the 2018 SBJ Athletics Director of the Year award. From a competitive standpoint, White’s first semester at Tennessee—the spring of 2021—was extraordinary. The combined 470.5 NACDA Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup points collected by Tennessee teams was UT’s highest spring points total in the 28-year history of the Directors’ Cup.

Ross Bjork - Texas A&M

While Ross Bjork has only been at Texas A&M for two years, the Aggies have experienced tremendous success on the playing field. The football team posted a victory in the Capital One Orange Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 4. Texas A&M tallied two SEC Championships in 2020-21 with the women’s basketball and soccer. The women’s track and field team earned NCAA runner-up finishes at the indoor and outdoor national meets. Bjork and his team launched a successful Change.org campaign following several injustices that occurred around the country in the summer of 2020.  Texas A&M athletics launched The Aggie Commitment and student-athletes created The B.L.U.E.print - Black Leaders who Undertake Excellence. The Aggie Commitment and B.L.U.E.print initiatives will aim to make significant progress toward providing new opportunities for personal and professional growth and development for student-athletes and staff.

Kirby Hocutt - Texas Tech

As a 2018 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year, Kirby Hocutt has guided the Texas Tech athletics department to success since being named the 13th Director of Athletics in school history on March 2, 2011. Texas Tech ranked as the top men’s program in the state of Texas following both years and posted its highest two finishes all-time in the Capital One Cup. Texas Tech has claimed 14 Big 12 Conference titles during Hocutt’s tenure and has made several notable coaching hires. As part of The Campaign for Fearless Champions, Hocutt provided the vision for and the plans to build the $48 million Sports Performance Center, which opened in the fall of 2017.

MARTIN JARMOND - UCLA

Jarmond was hired on May 19, 2020, as UCLA’s Alice and Nahum Lainer Family Director of Athletics, becoming the ninth athletic director in school history. He engineered a partnership between UCLA and Nike/Jordan, becoming only the fifth Jordan brand school in the nation. The six-year agreement between UCLA and Nike provides for 22 of the 25 UCLA varsity sports with Nike apparel, while football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball don Jordan. Jarmond has UCLA primed to be one of the leaders in the burgeoning area of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) which will assist student-athletes in growing brand awareness and determining their earning potential.

Bubba Cunningham - UNC

Since being hired in 2011 UNC has graduated more than 1,200 student-athletes under Bubba Cunningham. In Cunningham’s 10 years the Tar Heels have won 16 national titles and made an additional 12 runner-up finishes, have had Eleven student-athletes have been NCAA Elite 90 recipients, and student-athletes have logged more than 50,000 hours of community service, helping at hospitals and local schools, and partnering with a variety of local and national groups.In 2020, he was named to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, and he also earned the 2019-20 AD of the Year Award from The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).

Mike Bohn - USC

In addition to Mike Bohn’s two years with USC, he has over 35 years of experience in the collegiate athletics administration. He provides administrative oversight of the USC athletic department and its 21 women’s and men’s varsity teams. Prior to joining USC, he held leadership positions in athletics with the University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado, San Diego State University, University of Idaho and Air Force Academy. He emphasized academic performance as well, and 77% of student-athletes at the University of Cincinnati earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher during his final year. Bohn prioritized diversity in the athletics department and received a top rating from the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport for hiring female coaches.

Carla Williams - Virginia

During her four-year tenure as UVA’s athletics director, Williams has witnessed a revival of the Cavalier football program and a history-making performance by the men’s basketball team. In the classroom, UVA student-athletes have set record numbers for placement on the ACC Honor Roll, achieved the highest-grade point average totals in program history, and been recognized by the NCAA for outstanding achievement on academic progress reports. Carla Williams has a forward-thinking approach to leading Virginia Athletics. Her focus is on providing opportunities for student-athletes to maximize their college experience while establishing a culture and support system for the sport programs to compete for championships.

John Currie - Wake Forest

Being an award-winning college athletics leader with 28 years of experience in the ACC, Big 12 and SEC, Currie was introduced as Director of Athletics in March of 2020. He was recognized in 2013 as both an Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year and the recipient of the Bobby Dodd Athletic Director Award and was a Sports Business Journal Forty Under 40 winner in 2011. Through his leadership Wake Forest was able to host ESPN’s iconic pregame show, College GameDay for the first time in school history to kick off the 2020 football season during the pandemic.

Jennifer Cohen - Washington

Although only being Director of Athletics for five years Jennifer Cohen has been with the UW for 23 years, primarily overseeing the athletic department's fundraising efforts. In Cohen’s five-year span, the Huskies have won a total of 16 Pac-12 championships, have had three-straight New Year’s Six bowl game appearances, and the department cumulative GPA for the 2019-20 academic year was an astounding 3.35. Additionally, Cohen secured a 10-year, $119 million apparel partnership with Adidas and was named a finalist for Sport Business Journal’s Athletic Director of the Year in 2019.

Candice Lee - Vanderbilt

Former standout student-athlete and three-time Vanderbilt University graduate Candice Lee was named the Vanderbilt athletic director in May of 2020. Lee is Vanderbilt’s first female athletic director and the first African American woman to head a Southeastern Conference athletics program and has also been nationally recognized as a rising star in college athletics, was named to Sports Business Journal’s “Power Players:  College Sports” list in 2019 – distinguishing her as one of “the best thinkers, problem-solvers and dealmakers in college sports” and as someone who “will play a distinctly important role in its future.”

Honorable Mention 


Karlton Creech - Denver

After more than two decades of sports administration experience, building a reputation for leading exceptional athletics programs, as well as fundraising and encouraging the academic success of student-athletes Creech was named Vice Chancellor for Athletics. Before Denver he served four years as Director of Athletics for University of Maine where he restructured the program’s fundraising model and led projects that resulted in multiple endowments of more than $1 million.

David Coburn - Florida State

After being interim athletic director Florida State hired David Coburn in May of 2019. During his first year leading the athletic department the university had many athletic successes including the soccer NCAA Championship, and 19 of FSU’s sports participated in NCAA Championship play.. FSU had five teams ranked in the Top 10 nationally, and a total of 10 of its 13 spring sports ranked among the Top 25 during the pandemic.

Josh Brooks - Georgia

After serving 11 years at UGA Brooks was named Director of Athletics. He has been involved in the scheduling of future football games as well as overseeing bowl game operations. In addition, his responsibilities included assisting with the development and management of facilities, new construction projects for the Athletic Association, and planning the 2013 Jason Aldean Concert in Sanford Stadium. Brooks has also served as the sport facilitator for football and men’s and women’s track and field and cross country.

Todd Stansbury - Georgia Tech

The former Georgia Tech football player Todd Stansbury has been the University’s Director of Athletics since 2016. In those 5 years academically, Georgia Tech was the only institution from a Power Five conference that had a multiyear NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) higher than the national average in every sport in 2018-19, and in the community Stansbury led the charge to institute Georgia Tech athletics’ Jackets Without Borders international service program, which won the ACC’s prestigious Game Changers award for community service in 2019.

Chris Mcintosh - Wisconsin

Before being hired in July of 2021 McIntosh previously served as Wisconsin's deputy athletic director since 2017 under former Wisconsin director of athletics Barry Alvarez. In his role as deputy athletic director, McIntosh was charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations of the department while also serving as the sport administrator for football. During his time at Wisconsin, student-athletes have excelled both athletically and academically. The overall Graduation Success Rate for UW student-athletes is 91 percent and he helped establish and expand the Inclusion & Engagement unit as one of the first departments across the nation to intentionally focus on diversity, inclusion, and engagement within college athletics.

Alan Haller - Michigan State

Michigan State University appointed Haller as Director of Athletics in September, 2021 after unanimous approval from the MSU Board of Trustees. He has extensive experience working directly with teams as a sport administrator and currently serves as the sport administrator for football. He is credited with being part of the successful efforts to recruit MSU's all-time winningest coach Mark Dantonio and current MSU Head Football Coach Mel Tucker. He also championed the addition of the department's inaugural chief diversity officer, Ashley Baker.

Mike Bobinski - Purdue

Since his hire in 2016, Purdue Director of Athletics, Mike Bobinski, has helped to transform the department. During his time, four teams finished in the top 25 at their respective NCAA Championships, highlighted by men’s basketball, women’s outdoor track & field. and women’s golf. Men's basketball has won two Big Ten Conference championships, pushing its conference-leading total to 24 all-time. Women's outdoor track & field won the 2017 Big Ten title. Thirty-five Boilermakers earned first-team All-America honors.

Craig Pintens - LMU

Since being named Athletic Director in 2018, Pintens has revitalized LMU Athletics by hiring eight head coaches while also restructuring the senior management team, renovating facilities, and establishing record-breaking fundraising numbers. The current athletic department cumulative GPA is 3.345 with every team accumulating a team GPA of over a 3.00 in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021 for the first-time ever. The graduation success rate (GSR) of 95 percent ranks five percentage points above the national average.

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