Mack B. Rhoades, IV, who has provided outstanding leadership and vision for three NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision athletic programs, was named Baylor University’s Vice President and Director of Athletics on July 13, 2016.
Since his arrival, Rhoades has surrounded himself with a dynamic leadership team. Together, Rhoades and his administrative team have chartered a new mission for the Baylor Athletics department: Preparing Champions for Life. No team or individual is successful without a championship process, and Preparing Champions for Life is centered on four pillars: Academic Achievement, Athletic Success, Social Responsibility and Spiritual Development.
Athletically, 18 of Baylor’s 19 teams earned postseason berths in 2016-17, resulting in acrobatics and tumbling’s third consecutive NCATA Championship, Big 12 Championship titles for women’s basketball and equestrian, as well as the women’s indoor track and field program’s first conference title. Additionally, the football team won the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, earning back-to-back bowl victories for the fourth time in program history.
Baylor continued its successful run academically in 2016-17, recording its 17th and 18th consecutive semesters with 3.0 or better GPAs (3.27 in the fall, 3.26 in the spring). Baylor led the Big 12 in Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for the third straight year after 125 student-athletes earned degrees in the calendar year. Eleven of 15 BU athletics programs tracked by the NCAA matched or improved their Academic Progress Rate (APR), nine programs led the Big 12 with perfect one-year APR scores, 11 performed equal to or better than the national average and softball received an Academic Performance Program Award after recording a perfect multi-year APR score of 1,000. A total of 142 Bears were named to the Academic All-Big 12 Team and a school record and conference-leading 61 were named to the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team.
The Bears remain committed to giving back, as a total of 502 coaches, student-athletes, administrators and staff packed a school-record 139,968 meals at the annual Feed My Starving Children initiative. For the ninth consecutive year, Baylor’s Sports Mission Team traveled to share the love of Christ and serve as ministry partners in Maceio, Brazil. Additionally, more than 200 student-athletes regularly participated in Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Rhoades joined the Baylor family from the University of Missouri, where he spent the previous year (2015-16) leading the 20-sport Southeastern Conference intercollegiate athletics department, and he previously served in similar capacities at the University of Houston (2009-15) and the University of Akron (2006-09).
His first year in Columbia saw Mizzou student-athletes register the highest one-semester grade-point in school history at 3.03 for the fall 2015 term; Barry Odom hired as the Tigers’ head football coach; wrestler J’den Cox win an NCAA title and earn a berth on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team; the Tigers’ men’s swimming and diving team place a program-best eighth at the NCAA Championship and its women’s basketball program return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. Bolstered by three top 11 NCAA finishes—wrestling (sixth), men’s swimming and diving (eighth) and women’s swimming and diving (11th), Missouri finished 43rd in the final 2015-16 Learfield Directors’ Cup standings.
Rhoades and his staff developed a student-athlete enrichment program, Mizzou Made: Preparing Champions for Life. This innovative and comprehensive program is part of a campus community partnership focusing on life skills and career development among other core values.
Before moving to Missouri, Rhoades enjoyed five-and-a-half rewarding years guiding the athletic fortunes at the University of Houston as Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics. He reignited the Cougars’ entire program, hiring 14 new head coaches, including 2015 FWAA First-Year Coach of the Year Tom Herman. Rhoades also oversaw a transformation of the student-athlete experience while also directing marked improvements in the areas of academics, facilities, fundraising and athletic success. In nearly every academic measurement, including grade-point average and the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, Houston registered record achievements. He also unveiled the Cougar Pride Leadership Academy to equip student-athletes with life-long leadership and life skills.
Houston’s football team appeared in four bowl games during Rhoades’ six seasons, and enjoyed a historic 2011 campaign which saw it 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.
Known as an outstanding fundraiser, Houston raised nearly $100M and constructed $160M in new facilities during his tenure, including a new on-campus football stadium, a men’s and women’s basketball training center, a golf academy and a short game facility. Rhoades also negotiated one of the nation’s top five facility naming rights agreements at the collegiate level and secured a new multi-media rights deal for Houston. Cougar Pride, Houston Athletics' fundraising arm, set an annual donation record for the fifth-consecutive year in 2013-14 as more than 3,100 Cougar Pride members contributed $4.5M to eclipse the previous mark of $3.5M set the previous year.
Rhoades and University of Houston President Dr. Renu Khator successfully steered the institution into an exciting new era when it was invited in December 2011 to join The American Athletic Conference beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. Houston’s first year in The American was arguably one of the finest in school history, as its 2013-14 teams combined for 157 victories, 17 American individual championships, 10 NCAA postseason berths and a pair of American team titles. That successful surge led to Houston’s highest national finish in the Learfield Directors’ Cup since 2000-01.
Rhoades served as chair of the American Athletic Conference Athletics Directors Committee, Athletics Directors Executive Committee and Athletics Directors Finance Committee after having served Conference USA as chairperson for its Championship and Site Selection Committees.
Prior to his arrival at Houston, Rhoades helped the University of Akron achieve unprecedented academic and athletic success. During his tenure, Zip 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.
Rhoades’ Akron tenure was also marked by the construction of a $61.6M on-campus football stadium, the creation of a women’s golf program, three-time recognition for the department’s diversity strategy and the hiring of 11 head coaches. UA student-athletes also generously gave back the community during Rhoades’ tenure providing more than 5,000 service hours to the greater Akron area during each of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years.
He served as a member of the NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet—as well as its Administrative Committee, and led the Mid-American Conference External Affairs Committee. Rhoades also helped then-MAC Commissioner Rick Chryst negotiate an unprecedented TV contract for the league with ESPN.
Rhoades went to Akron after seven years at UTEP, where he worked his way up the department ranks to become the Miners Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director after starting as Assistant Athletics Director for Development. In his final position at UTEP, Rhoades oversaw all fundraising, the marketing and media relations offices as well as football external operations, men's basketball, men's golf, licensing, Miner Athletic Club and the athletics ticket office.
Rhoades, who holds a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from the University of Arizona (1993) and a master’s of science degree in athletics administration/sports management from Indiana University (2002), began his intercollegiate athletics career as a marketing assistant in the Yale athletic department (1996) and worked in development at Marquette (1997-98) before joining the UTEP staff in 1998.
Mack and his wife, Amy, have three daughters - Nicolette, Natalie and Noelle.