Baylor hires Missouri's Mack Rhoades to lead athletic department

Mack Rhoades. (University of Missouri photo)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Following a national search, Baylor University Interim President David E. Garland today announced the appointment of Mack Rhoades as Vice President and Director of Athletics. Rhoades comes to Baylor after serving since April 2015 as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for the University of Missouri where he oversaw the university’s 20 intercollegiate athletics programs, 300 employees, 550 student-athletes and an annual operating budget of $92 million. The University of Missouri is a part of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

“Baylor University is very pleased to welcome Mack Rhoades as Baylor University’s Vice President and Director of Athletics,” said interim president David Garland. “He is a charismatic leader who pays careful attention to details and cultivates solidarity among the coaches and staff. He intends to build champions on the field and on the court and to mold student-athletes into champions in their lives after sports. Most importantly, he is committed to and excited by Baylor’s Christian mission and vision.”

Rhoades’ tenure at the University of Missouri is marked with a focus on preparing student-athletes to be men and women of character who are successful inside the classroom as well as in their areas of athletic competition. In addition to managing key coaching hires such as head football coach Barry Odom, actively engaging donors in the vision for the programs, and leading efforts to reignite the excitement of Mizzou alumni and fans, Rhoades’ success at Missouri includes student-athletes posting the highest cumulative grade-point average in school history and the recognition of Missouri football as one of 15 programs honored by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) for graduating at least 90 percent of student-athletes since 2008. Only three SEC programs were recognized by the organization this year.

“The past year has taught me a great deal about who I am as a person and as a leader. I am very grateful to the people I’ve worked with and come to know throughout the state of Missouri. The experience has helped galvanized a commitment to my core values and to the values I want to infuse into an athletics program,” said Rhoades. “I look forward to the opportunity to join Baylor University at this important time in its history. I am excited to support and develop programs of the highest caliber, in facilities that are second to none, alongside coaches who are among the best in the industry, all grounded in a Christian tradition and committed to academic excellence.”

Prior to joining the University of Missouri, Rhoades served as vice president for athletics at the University of Houston where he led the resurgence of the Houston program for almost six years. While at the helm in Houston from August 2009 to March 2015, Houston’s football team appeared in four bowl games and enjoyed a historic 2011 campaign which saw the Cougars climb to No. 6 in the BCS standings en route to a 13-1 record and its first season-ending finish in The Associated Press Top 25 since 1990. Rhoades led the university’s efforts to raise nearly $100 million for athletics and build numerous facilities including a new on-campus football stadium and a men’s and women’s basketball development center. In addition, Rhoades made student-athlete education and success a priority during his tenure in Houston.

From 2005-2009 Rhoades served as athletic director for the University of Akron, a member of the Mid-American Conference. During his tenure, Akron achieved unprecedented success on and off the field. Akron student-athletes earned: 765 total Dean's List honors, 213 All-Conference honors, 83 Academic All-Conference awards, 20 team championships, 14 Conference Player of the Year awards and 12 All-America honors. Akron men’s basketball won its first Division I post-season game in the NIT, after posting the best winning record in a season in school history. The football team won its first MAC championship and first berth in a Division I bowl game; women’s cross-country and men’s soccer also won MAC championships.

Rhoades has also served in athletics department roles at University of Texas El Paso, Marquette and Yale University.

A native of Tucson, Arizona, Rhoades is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences. He earned a master’s degree in athletics administration/sports management from Indiana University. He and his wife Amy have three daughters: Nicolette, Natalie and Noelle.

Baylor confirmed on May 30 that McCaw was resigning after announcing earlier in the day that it had hired Jim Grobe to replace ousted coach Art Briles.

“After much reflection and prayer, I have decided that a change in athletics department leadership is in Baylor University’s best interest in order to promote the unity, healing and restoration that must occur in order to move forward,” McCaw said in a statement released by the university on May 30.

“I have always sought to put the university’s needs ahead of my own. My time at Baylor has been an incredible journey filled with some of the most remarkable people I have ever known. I am grateful to Baylor Nation for its support and dedication, and to all who have done so much to advance the athletics program.”

The university’s Board of Regents released a brief statement in which it said, “We understand and accept this difficult decision by Ian McCaw to resign as athletic director and are grateful for his service to Baylor University. We also appreciate Ian’s commitment and involvement in bringing a person of integrity such as Jim Grobe to the University before making this decision.”

On May 26, Baylor University regents reassigned Chancellor and President Ken Starr, suspended Briles with intent to terminate, and put McCaw on probation in the wake of a scathing report of a review of the sexual assault scandal that engulfed the school’s football program.

The announcement came as the school also released the findings and recommendations from an independent review of the university's response to reports of sexual violence by the Pepper Hamilton LLP law firm.

Baylor hired the firm in September 2015 to conduct an outside review of the university's in the wake of the first in a series of scathing ESPN reports.

The firm briefed university regents on May 13.

A report of the findings of the review by Pepper Hamilton summarizes over 13 pages the inadequacies it found at Baylor with respect to inattention and misconduct by university administrators and leadership in the athletic department regarding Title IX issues.

The report primarily targeted the university’s administration and leadership and only partially the athletic department staff.