SMU Sets Fundraising Record For Seventh Straight Year
A Column From Rick Hart
A Column From Rick Hart
Annual Giving Jumps 29%; Mustang Club Gifts Top $3.3M
Rick Hart just completed his third year on the Hilltop, having been named SMU's Director of Athletics on July 16, 2012.
In three years under Hart, SMU student-athletes have excelled in the classroom, as 233 of SMU’s 399 student-athletes currently hold cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher – almost 60% of the student-athlete population.
SMU has also excelled athletically under Hart, winning 11 conference team championships in three years and consistently finishing among the leaders in the American Athletic Conference, with 12 of 17 sports finishing in the top three of the conference in their respective sports in 2014-15. SMU student-athletes have won 40 individual conference championships and earned over 100 All-Conference honors in the last two seasons alone.
SMU has also connected with the community under Hart, with Mustang student-athletes logging 2,340 community service hours in the 2013-2014 academic year, exceeding the equivalent of an entire year's worth of work. The community has responded to SMU as well, increasing attendance at events and donations to the department.
Hart oversaw the opening of SMU's renovated and expanded Moody Coliseum and the new Miller Event Center in January 2014, and the crowds flowed to the Hilltop. The men's basketball team set a home attendance record and SMU was one of only five schools nationally to increase attendance by over 2,000 fans per game. SMU broke the record again in 2015, as the Mustangs set new home attendance records for a season (124,986) and average (6,944). SMU also set a record in football in 2014, as over 10,000 fans purchased season tickets. In January 2015, SMU opened the new SMU Tennis Complex and finished the year with a total attendance of 4,287, one of just five men’s programs in the country with a total over 4,000 fans. The Mustangs' match against Texas on Jan. 31 ranked second in single-match attendance, with 1,825 fans in the stands for the event.
SMU experienced community success in other areas as well, highlighted by the department's fundraising efforts. Donors to athletics have set records for generosity in each of Hart’s three years at SMU. In fiscal year 2015, more than $13.3M was donated in support of Athletic Department operations and SMU student-athletes, a 24% increase from 2014. Total donors also increased 32% from 2,997 to 3,956 in 2015. Since Hart’s arrival on the Hilltop in 2012, Mustang Club annual giving has more than doubled, and donor support of operations has jumped from $8.4 million to more than $13 million.
The increased revenues have been reinvested in the student-athlete experience. In the past year alone, SMU has committed to full cost of attendance for student-athletes and more access to meals and snacks following NCAA legislation changes, and has added staff related to student-athlete development, including a nutritionist and additional strength and conditioning coaches. SMU is also in the process of building and updating facilities, with a new golf facility, throws area and updated football facilities under construction, and a new natatorium close to breaking ground. An athletics facilities master plan is being developed to identify and address future investments in the student-athlete and fan experiences.
Hart has also helped build and guide SMU’s stable of quality coaches. In December 2014, Hart lured Chad Morris, the 2013 AFCA National Assistant Coach of the Year and 2011 National Offensive Coordinator of the Year, to the Hilltop. Morris joins a group that includes Hall of Fame basketball coach Larry Brown and others who have won Conference and National Coach of the Year accolades.
Hart 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 operates on a principle of S.P.I.R.I.T. (Service, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Teamwork), with a focus on the student-athlete and aligning the Athletics Department with the educational mission of the University.
Hart serves on the NACDA Executive Committee and as a faculty member for the D1-A Athletics Directors' Institute. Hart’s is an active speaker, and has made presentations at the Career in Sports Seminar, the NACDA Leadership Institute, the Texas High School Athletic Directors’ Association and the Dallas Women’s Club, to name a few. Previously, Hart has served as a member of the NCAA Division I Championship/Sports Management Cabinet and the FCS Athletics Directors Association Executive Committee.
Hart came to SMU after six years as Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Hart served seven years at the University of Oklahoma in various athletics administrative capacities, ending 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 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 stints as a coach, Athletics Director and Conference Commissioner.