Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes was one of 28 administrators across the country who received the 2013-14 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Award, as announced by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
The Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Award spans seven divisions (NCAA FBS, FCS; Division I-AAA, II, III, NAIA/other four-year institutions and junior college/community colleges). Winners will receive their awards during the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, June 11, at NACDA's 49th Annual Convention at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Overall, Barnes was one of just four athletic directors at the Football Bowl Subdivision to be honored along with Fresno State’s Thomas Boeh, UCLA’s Dan Guerrero and Virginia Tech’s Jim Weaver.
In all, it is the second time in his career that Barnes has been honored by NACDA as he was also named the Division I-AA West Region AD of the Year in 2005 as the athletics director at Eastern Washington University.
“I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of this recognition,” Utah State President Stan Albrecht said. “Scott Barnes is everything an institution would wish for in the individual who stands at the helm of its athletic operation. He reflects absolute integrity in everything he does and leads by personal example. He understands the value of the collegiate model of athletics and works hard to implement that model, both to the benefit of the individual and the larger institution. He recognizes why we reference student first when we talk about the student-athlete. He is a highly respected member of our senior administrative team and through his leadership makes us better as an institution.”
NACDA Executive Director Bob Vecchione explains the Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Award is essential because it highlights the efforts of athletic direcorts at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities.
“Since 1998, NACDA has been highlighting the impressive contributions made by athletics directors across all divisions of our membership,” Vecchione said. “This award allows athletics directors to be recognized not only nationally but also in their respective communities which heightens the awareness of their leadership position in the athletics enterprise.”
Since assuming the duties of director of intercollegiate athletics at Utah State University on April 1, 2008, Barnes has established a pattern of growth and stability that would rival any athletics department in the country and is unmatched in the history of Aggie Athletics.
Under Barnes’ guidance, Utah State’s development has never been more apparent than in the past three years as Aggie Athletics has witnessed unparalleled success with its student-athletes on the fields of competition and in the classroom, along with the expansion of its infrastructure, which includes the completion of two new facilities in the past 12 months through private donations and the continued accretion of its annual operating revenues.
Since the 2011-12 academic year, Utah State’s on-field successes include its football program participating in back-to-back-to-back bowl games and winning consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history. Off the field, Utah State introduced a program-wide Nike brand and identity program, and accepted an invitation to compete in the Mountain West Conference in all sports beginning July 1, 2013.
During Barnes’ six-year tenure overseeing Utah State’s 16-sport athletics department that supports nearly 400 student-athletes, Aggie Athletics has captured 20 conference championships, in addition to football winning the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference in 2013 and playing in the inaugural Mountain West Championship game.
On the academic front, Utah State’s student-athletes carried a cumulative 3.17 grade-point average during the 2013-14 academic year to go along with an 84 percent graduation success rate, while its student-athletes have led their conference in all-academic honorees in each of his six year’s at USU.
Another component to Utah State’s upward trajectory under Barnes has been the continued growth of its infrastructure with the completion of its $6.5 million, 26,329 square foot ICON Sports Performance Center in 2013 and its $9.7 million, 32,000 square foot Wayne Estes Center which houses men's and women’s basketball and volleyball in 2014.
Fundraising has played an integral part in Utah State’s growth during Barnes’ tenure as a new emphasis on personal interaction and communication with donors and has resulted in all-time fundraising records in the Big Blue Scholarship Fund and major gifts over the past six years. Included are the two largest lead gifts in USU Athletics history — $5.25 million for the Wayne Estes Center and $3.7 million for the ICON Sports Performance Center. To date, five $1 million-plus gifts have been secured for facility projects.
Utah State, in partnership with Nike, also rolled out a new athletics branding initiative in 2012, and Barnes recently negotiated a new $2.4 million Nike apparel contract that delivers a substantial increase over the previous deal.
Barnes has also lead efforts to develop a comprehensive football competitive excellence plan that has increased private funding to football by $2.5 million and also has worked effectively with student leadership to pass a student referendum that has increased funding to athletics by $2.2 million annually.
Other facility improvements under Barnes’ watch include the installation of chair back and bleacher seating in the south end zone at Romney Stadium in 2014 and 2013, new AstroTurf installed on Merlin Olsen Field in 2012 and new synthetic turf installed in the Stan Laub Indoor Training Center in 2011. In 2010, USU opened the Dr. Randall and Julianne Stockham Student-Athlete Academic Hall of Honor. USU also opened the Steve Mothersell Athletics Hall of Honor in 2009, as well as its new off-court basketball facilities, which include the Nate and Heather Wickizer men’s basketball and MerLynn Pitcher women’s basketball locker rooms. In 2008, USU completed construction of the 69,000 square foot Jim & Carol Laub Athletics-Academics Complex.
Utah State has also been recognized nationally under the leadership of Barnes as it was named the most economically efficient athletics department in the nation in June of 2009 following a study done by Texas A&M’s Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics. USU also finished third nationally in 2010, fourth in 2011, sixth in 2012 and 20th in 2013.
Barnes has also garnered national attention, as he will serve as the chair on the NCAA men’s basketball committee during the 2014-15 academic year to conclude his five-year appointment. Barnes has served on several other NCAA committees during his time as athletics director, has been an active presenter at NACDA and has taught on the IA Athletic Directors Institute Faculty.
All NACDA member directors of athletics in the United States, Canada and Mexico who met the criteria were eligible for the award. Among the criteria were service as an AD for a minimum of five academic years; demonstration of commitment to higher education and student-athletes; continuous teamwork, loyalty and excellence; and the ability to inspire individuals or groups to high levels of accomplishments. Additionally, each athletic director's institution must have passed a compliance check through its appropriate governing body (i.e., NCAA, NAIA, etc.), in which the institution could not have been on probation or cited for a lack of institutional control within the last five years during the tenure of the current athletics director.
Nominators were NACDA member directors of athletics, institutional presidents and conference commissioners. Special selection committees composed of current and former directors of athletics, present and past NCAA and NAIA presidents, current and former commissioners, and other key athletics administrators voted on nominees for the award. A complete listing of Selection Committee members can be found on NACDA's website.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.