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UToledo to Launch National Search for Athletic Director

The University of Toledo is launching a national search for the next vice president and director of athletics to replace Mike O’Brien, who is retiring from the position at the end of his contract April 30, 2022.

UToledo is partnering with Collegiate Sports Associates, an executive search firm specializing in intercollegiate athletic hiring for colleges and universities.

The company has helped with several searches in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) recently, including the University of Akron, Miami University and Ball State University, as well as national searches for the University of Cincinnati, the University of Georgia and Michigan State University.

“Under Mike O’Brien’s leadership, Rocket Athletics has developed a reputation for excellence in the classroom and on the field,” UToledo President Gregory Postel said. “We must maintain this momentum and build upon our history of success. We are looking for a leader that shares Rocket Nation’s enthusiasm, as well as a commitment to our institutional values including student-centeredness and diversity.”

Douglas Huffner, associate vice president for risk management and chief risk officer, is the chair of UToledo’s search committee. Also serving on the committee will be:

  • Jeff Cole, UToledo alumnus and senior director of corporate communication at Dana Incorporated;
  • Dana Hollie, professor of accounting in the UToledo John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation and faculty athletics representative to the MAC and NCAA;
  • Brian Jones, senior associate athletic director for health and wellness;
  • Don Mewhort, UToledo alumnus and community business leader;
  • Collin Palmer, director of undergraduate admission;
  • Demond Pryor, director of recreational services;
  • Robert Steven, senior lecturer in the UToledo Department of Biological Sciences and member of Faculty Senate;
  • Madeline Vining, UToledo junior majoring in economics and student-athlete competing in track and field; and
  • Thomas Wakefield, director of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center at the University of Michigan and a member of The University of Toledo Foundation Board.

“Our committee represents UToledo’s campus community ranging from a student’s perspective to faculty, staff, alumni and donors,” Huffner said. “I am confident our experiences and expertise we bring to the table will help us find the next great leader for the Rocket athletic program, one of the best in the MAC and one of the top mid-major athletic programs in the nation.”

Under O’Brien’s watch, the Rockets have won or shared 36 league titles in nine different sports. In addition, the Rockets have made 11 bowl appearances in football, four NIT appearances in men’s basketball, an NCAA Tournament appearance in women’s basketball in 2017, as well as eight WNIT appearances, including a WNIT championship crown in 2011. Toledo won the Jacoby Trophy as the MAC’s top women’s athletic program in 2011-12 and 2017-18.

In the classroom, Toledo has produced overall department GPAs above a 3.3 in each of the past four semesters, including a school-record GPA of 3.527 in spring 2020. Toledo has won the Mid-American Conference Institutional Academic Achievement Award, presented annually to the school with the highest GPA, in five of the last eight years.

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