Athletics News |
Aug. 10, 2011
University of Cincinnati Director of Athletics Mike Thomas announced his resignation Wednesday to take the athletic director job at the University of Illinois.
A 26-year veteran of college athletics administration, Thomas had been at UC since October 20, 2005. Since taking the reins of the department with 18 teams and 560 student-athletes, Thomas has championed student-athlete development and significant external growth, while also authoring a detailed plan for competitive success in the BIG EAST Conference and on the national level.
"I'm excited about this new opportunity but at the same time I know I'm leaving behind great people and a great place at the University of Cincinnati," Thomas said. "Together, we accomplished many things during my time there in terms of championships and academics and made it a point to be integrated on campus and in the community. I'm very proud of everything we accomplished at UC and I'll always be a Bearcats fan."
"I have enjoyed working with Mike as he has provided quality leadership and moved our athletics program in new and positive directions," said UC President Dr. Gregory Williams. "Now, I look to appoint an interim director of athletics in the near future and begin the search process soon to identify UC's next director of athletics."
Thomas had been lauded for his vision for success in all areas of UC athletics, guided by the strategic plan that was put in place soon after arriving on campus. Titled CATAPULT - an acronym for championships, academics, and together - the plan focused on three main initiatives: winning BIG EAST team championships, high-level academic achievement, and a comprehensive integration with the UC Campus and Greater Cincinnati community. During the course of the plan, UC athletics produced one NCAA individual champion, four BIG EAST team titles, 12 All-Americans, and 72 All BIG EAST honorees. It also called for expanded and redefined academic services and the NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills program, which resulted in UC being one of the most recognized schools in the 16-member BIG EAST Conference for academic success, earning multiple BIG EAST Academic Excellence Awards. The overall Academic Progress Rate (APR) of all UC athletics programs increased and in the most recent APR report five UC athletic teams earned perfect APR scores of 1000, including men's basketball. UC's student-athletes also emerged as community leaders, and since 2006 their community service hours have grown from 1000 annual hours to over 5500.
On the external side, the University of Cincinnati is growing at a tremendous rate. Since his arrival Thomas has increased UC's athletic department budget by $7 million, a vital 20% increase, while simultaneously reducing the annual operating deficit by over $6 million. UC established single-season attendance and revenue records for football in each of the past three years and its donor base has increased by nearly 300 percent during Thomas' tenure while raising $70 million in capital projects, endowments, and sports-specific giving. Thomas negotiated UC's first across-the-board shoe and apparel contract with adidas and revamped UC's multimedia rights partnership, reaching an agreement with IMG College, increasing overall revenues in this area by over $17 million.
Prior to coming to UC, Thomas spent five years as the Director of Athletics at the University of Akron and seven years as associate athletic director at the University of Virginia. Prior to Virginia, Thomas spent seven years at the University of Denver as assistant athletic director for internal operations, serving as chief financial officer and overseeing the departments of compliance, merchandising, and facilities. He began his athletic administration career at the University of Iowa as an administrative and operations intern.
Thomas presently serves on several national and conference committees, including the NCAA Division I Championship/Sports Management Cabinet (where he also serves as the NCAA men's basketball liaison to the cabinet and serves as a member of the cabinet's four-person Administrative Committee), and the NCAA Men's Basketball Issues Committee.
Twice during his career, Thomas has received distinction for his efforts and dedication as a director of athletics, garnering the General Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Athletics Director Award in 2005 at Akron and then again in April of 2008 at Cincinnati. He has been recognized by the Cincinnati Sports Professionals Network as the 2009-10 Sports Executive of the Year.