A Column From Rick Hart
A Column From Rick Hart
Annual Giving Jumps 29%; Mustang Club Gifts Top $3.3M
SMU Student-Athletes Put In the Equivalent Of Over A Year's Worth Of Work
Rick Hart is in his third year on the Hilltop, having been named SMU's Director of Athletics on July 16, 2012. Hart came to SMU after six years as Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Under Hart, SMU's 2013-14 campaign saw the Mustangs win four team conference championships and place 10 teams in the postseason, while five SMU coaches were named league coaches of the year. SMU student-athletes claimed 19 individual conference championships and earned 66 All-AAC honors and 12 All-America accolades. In addition, 202 SMU student-athletes were named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll for earning GPAs of 3.0 or higher in the spring semester, and 181 student-athletes maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better - a number which represents almost one-half of the student-athlete population. SMU student-athletes also logged 2,340 community service hours in the 2013-2014 academic year, exceeding the equivalent of an entire year's worth of work.
SMU experienced success in other areas as well, highlighted by the department's fundraising efforts. The Mustang Club collected contributions totaling a record $3.3M, with athletics receiving over $22M in total fundraising revenues, including more than $10M in support of operations - besting the previous high of $8.9M.
Hart oversaw the opening of SMU's expanded and renovated Moody Coliseum and the new Miller Event Center, and the crowds flowed to the Hilltop. The men's basketball team set a new home attendance record and SMU was one of only five schools nationally to increase attendance by over 2,000 fans per game.
Hart served as a faculty member at the D1-A Athletics Directors' Institute and on the NACDA Executive Committee, and was the AD Chair at the American Athletic Conference Annual Meeting. Hart also presented at both the Career in Sports Seminar and the NACDA Leadership Institute.
Hart's first year on the Hilltop was a successful one, as SMU won four conference championships and had 10 teams compete in postseason play. SMU also produced 14 All-Americans, four conference players of the year and four league coaches of the year. In the classroom, 186 SMU student-athletes were named to the conference Commissioner's Honor Roll and 29 Mustangs earned Commissioner's Academic Medals.
Hart has also developed and installed the Strategic Plan for SMU Athletics titled, "The SMU Advantage." The SMU Advantage consists of a departmental vision, mission, values and goals and focuses on a principle of S.P.I.R.I.T. (Service, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Teamwork).
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 and the FCS Athletics Directors Association Executive Committee. He has been active in community organizations such as Special Olympics, the March of Dimes and the United Way. He also served as a member of the Chattanooga Downtown Rotary.
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 and ended as the 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 Coach, Athletics Director and Conference Commissioner.