Rick Hart Named SMU's Director Of Athletics
July 16, 2012
DALLAS (SMU) - Rick Hart has been named SMU's new Director of Athletics, President R. Gerald Turner announced today. Hart becomes the 13th Director of Athletics at SMU, arriving on the Hilltop after six years as Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
"We are very happy to welcome Rick and his family to SMU," said Turner. "In his time at Chattanooga, Rick has demonstrated a commitment to athletic and academic success, fiscal responsibility, and a focus on the student-athlete experience. I am confident that he has the skills and abilities to keep SMU Athletics moving forward as we transition to the BIG EAST and become an even more prominent member of the college athletics landscape."
"I would like to thank President Turner and the Board of Trustees for entrusting me with the responsibility to lead SMU Athletics during this exciting and historic time for our campus," said Hart. "President Turner's vision for excellence is inspiring, and we look forward to partnering with the faculty, alumni, fans and donors as we seek to establish a model athletics program. Together, we will accelerate SMU's rise to national prominence as we prepare for the transition to the BIG EAST Conference."
At UTC, Hart transformed the Athletics Department into a model program. During his tenure, the Mocs captured 17 regular season and 22 tournament Southern Conference championships, more than any other SoCon school, and competed in numerous NCAA Championship events. Hart also guided UTC to strong NACDA Learfield Director's Cup finishes, with three of the Mocs' top-5 all-time NACDA Director's Cup finishes coming in his tenure. In addition, UTC captured its first Germann Cup in 2007-08, signifying the best all-around women's sports program in the Southern Conference.
In the classroom, Moc student-athletes showed continuous improvement in overall grade point averages and tied the highest semester mark on record in the spring of 2012. In all, over half of the Mocs' student-athletes made the Athletic Director's Honor Roll in each of the last six semesters.
Hart made fiscal stewardship a priority upon his arrival, and with his leadership and a commitment from the department as a whole, UTC Athletics made significant strides towards reducing the financial burden on the institution and adherence to university allocated budgets.
Hart developed and installed the Strategic Plan for UTC Athletics, focusing on the student-athlete experience, increasing ticket sales and fundraising, creating innovative partnerships, improving athletics facilities and the addition of quality coaches.
Hart also focused his attention on strengthening the relationship between UTC and the local community, increasing the department's outreach efforts and cultivating relationships with local and national media.
Hart has served as a member of the NCAA Division I Championship/Sports Management Cabinet, the FSC Athletics Directors Association Executive Committee and the NACDA Executive Committee. He has been active in the community and was a sought-after speaker among the area's many civic organizations. In addition to his selection as the Grand Marshal of the 2007 Region 4 Special Olympics, Hart was appointed to the Board of Directors with the March of Dimes - River Valley Division, the Greater Chattanooga Sports and Events Committee and the Finley Stadium Corporation. He also served as a member of the Chattanooga Downtown Rotary and the United Way of Greater Chattanooga Leadership Club.
Hart arrived on the UTC campus after serving seven years at the University of Oklahoma in various athletics administrative capacities. Hart's career with the Sooners began in 1999 as the Director of Marketing and Licensing. He became Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Licensing in 2001, and developed and implemented marketing campaigns which generated annual ticket revenues in excess of $19.5 million. Hart was promoted to Associate Athletics Director for Program Advancement and Branding in 2003 and Senior Associate Athletics Director in 2006.
Hart has also worked in athletics for the University of North Carolina and East Carolina University and has served with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
A 1994 graduate of UNC, Hart earned a bachelor's degree in Physical Education, Health and Sport Science. Hart and his wife, Allison, also a graduate of North Carolina, are proud parents of Trevor and Caroline.
A third-generation athletics administrator, Hart's father, Dave, currently serves as Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee, and his late grandfather, Dave Sr., served in a variety of roles within collegiate athletics including a stint as the Commissioner of the Southern Conference from 1987-91.
President R. Gerald Turner
On the search process:
When the process began, before we employed Jed Hughes to be our consultant, I checked around to a number of places and individuals who I knew that knew a lot of athletic directors and people in intercollegiate athletics, and it's really interesting that the very first name I had submitted to me by somebody who knows many, many, many athletic directors was Rick Hart. Then, I called two commissioners and asked them to send me a list of anywhere from two to three or four individuals, and on both lists was Rick Hart. Then we had Brad Chives make a couple of calls to individuals who he knew around, and the one that he told me he was going to call came back with only one name, and that name was Rick Hart. Then we hired Jed Hughes, and he (Hughes) had him (Hart) on his list.
On Rick Hart's pedigree:
He (Hart) has an unusual pedigree, in that I don't know of any other person who has three generations of athletic administrators in his family with his granddad having been an AD and also commissioner of the Southern Conference, which UT-Chattanooga is now in, and his dad, Dave Hart, who is the AD at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and I first met him when he was at Florida State. So as a result, if there is anybody who had it in their blood to be in athletics administration, it would be Rick Hart.
On the selection of Rick Hart:
We were looking for someone who had experience in fundraising and marketing and ticketing and all those sorts of things, and the Oklahoma people couldn't say enough about how he organized things up there in a very significant way, and the other is whether or not he could provide leadership because changing is going to be a part of what we are doing, obviously, as when we move into the BIG EAST there will be some adaptations to make, and you never know what other opportunities are. He is well thought of and knows everybody in athletics administration in the United States, through his family and through his own work...with the increased emphasis on APR and eligibility for championships and the various kinds of things that are associated with making sure your student-athletes are students as well as athletes, and that they effectively get through the program and they're successful in general. Those were the main things that we were highlighting, and again, from the very beginning his name came in, and although we talked to a lot of people, I think what we basically found was that Rick Hart, in the end, personified the needs that we had in simply the values, the family orientation, and his excitement about coming to SMU. All of those were important.
On increasing attendance at future events:
As we move forward, not only in the last year in Conference USA, but also into the BIG EAST, increasing the attendance in football and basketball, men's and women's, that attendance increase is crucial. We absolutely need more people in the greater Dallas area and more of our alumni involved with the support of these teams. Certainly June Jones, for his three years of winning, is something to build on that we think will be very important. With our basketball program under Larry Brown and with the recruiting class that Rhonda (Rompola) had in women's basketball, we think there will be more excitement, and obviously, this will be the last year in, quote, the old Moody, and there is just every reason for people to check us out again...We just have to be able to sell people on the fact that the collegiate is different in kind, and certainly the quality of it can be great as compared to a pro experience.
Director of Athletics Rick Hart
It is a real honor to be here at Southern Methodist University today with my family, to formally accept the position of director of athletics. As for a brief personal introduction, my greatest accomplishment and claim to fame, is I am the husband of Allison Hart, and the father of two children, Trevor and Caroline. That is without question my most important work. As for my education, my thirst for learning accelerated in college at the University of North Carolina. Then came the decision to follow in my father's and grandfather's footsteps, to pursue my passion for education and athletics. That cemented my decision for a career and life in collegiate athletics.
On goals and messages he brings to SMU:
I will carry into this position three simple messages. When I had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Turner I was struck by his vision and sense of purpose. It immediately attracted my attention not just in academics, but in athletics and community involvement, and constituent relationships in all areas. My first message is that we'll embrace the same message is that we will embrace the same spirit of comprehensive excellence in all we do, all in support of the educational missions of SMU.
We will focus on continuous improvement in an effort to meet the standards of excellence, president Turner has set for the entire university community. We will graduate students. We will operate with integrity. We will support the development of the total student athlete. We will pursue championships. We will hire and retain the best and brightest coaches and people with great character. We will aggressively pursue opportunities to enhance and expand our resources. We will engage the university and Dallas communities to encourage unbridled support for Mustang athletics.
On what the environment is currently like at SMU:
One thing I know I know is that there are a lot of great things that have happened here recently. I think Steve did a great job, and that is apparent in some of the facilities and coaches, and things that are more obvious and evident. I've been focused on those things as I try to learn more about where some of the gaps are. I think we'll just focus on building relationships.
On how to prioritize his job:
I don't know quite yet how to prioritize the various projects and tasks... I'll need to learn a little more about what stage we're in with the Moody Colliseum and the plan. Football and the fall sports are upon us. We have to take advantage of the opportunity. We have a strong team coming back. Three-straight bowl games. The home schedule is really unbelievable.