Under Armour AD of the Year Award Winners - Division I|
June 16, 2009
Pat Meiser, University of Hartford, Northeast Region
Pat Meiser, in her 16th year as director of athletics at the University of Hartford, is one of only 22 female athletics directors among the 329 institutions competing at the Division I level. In May 1999, she was named one of the nation's top 50 women's sports executives by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal. In Meiser's tenure, seven sports have won America East Conference championships and reached postseason play. Basketball, in particular, has emerged with Meiser's hiring of Jennifer Rizzotti to lead the women's program and Dan Leibovitz to head the men's squad. Meiser has expanded fund raising and alumni relations efforts, helped develop a corporate sponsorship program, implement a licensing program and successful grant submissions. Most significantly, Hartford athletics embarked on a $10 million athletics capital campaign in April 2003, which led to the renovation and construction of outdoor fields for baseball, softball, men's lacrosse and men's and women's soccer. Meiser's commitment to academics is demonstrated through the success of her student-athletes being among the leaders in the America's East's Academic Cup standings each of the past 10 years, capturing the Cup in 1996-97. Meiser served as President of the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association in 2006-07 and currently serves on the Executive Committee as the America East Conference representative.
Mike Strickland, Belmont University, Southeast Region
In his 13th year as Belmont University director of athletics, Mike Strickland has led Belmont's athletics department through its infancy stages as a new NCAA Division I program to become one that sees annual success on the field and in the classroom. During his tenure at Belmont, the program has expanded the number of teams it fields, joined the Atlantic Sun Conference, enhanced its facilities and established a reputation of producing winning teams and distinguished student-athletes. Two of the most important achievements of his tenure at Belmont are the aforementioned acceptance of Belmont into the Atlantic Sun Conference and the opening of the multi-purpose Curb Event Center. Since becoming a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2001, Belmont has steadily become one of the conference's strongest programs. Over the past three years, Belmont has won 15 conference championships and had eight teams make NCAA Tournament appearances. Off the field, the athletics department has made academic achievement the cornerstone of its definition of success. Belmont has won the Atlantic Sun Academic Trophy six of the past seven years and is the lone institution to win the trophy five straight times (2002-2006).
Jean Lenti Ponsetto, DePaul University, Central Region
A former four-sport student-athlete at DePaul, Jean Lenti Ponsetto knows what it takes to be a student-athlete, coach and administrator at her alma mater. She has been a driving force behind the continuing expansion and development of DePaul's athletics program in her seventh year at the helm. An advocate for student-athlete welfare, Ponsetto initiated and provided the leadership for the Sullivan-McGrath Athletics Capital Campaign which has yielded the funding resources for the renovation of Wish Soccer Field, the creation of the Cacciatore Softball Stadium and renovation of the Cherry Family Indoor Track at the Ray Meyer Center. Over the past seven years, 14 of the 15 Blue Demon athletics programs have represented the University in NCAA Championships. Success has also come in the classroom during Ponsetto's tenure as more than 580 Blue Demon student-athletes have been named to conference academic honor rolls. Ponsetto's efforts haven't gone unnoticed by her colleagues. For the second time in her career, Ponsetto, a National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) past president, was presented with the Association's Administrator of the Year Award in 2003. She is currently the 1st Vice President of the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association.
Mike Roth, Gonzaga University, West Region
Mike Roth is in his 12th year as Gonzaga University's athletics director, and under his leadership, the Bulldogs' athletics programs have grown from a recognized regional power to a national fixture. After taking over as acting athletics director in July 1997 and being named athletics director in September 1998, the men's basketball team has flourished into one of the nation's elite programs. The Bulldogs have made 11-straight NCAA Tournament appearances beginning with their fairy tale Elite Eight run. The Gonzaga athletics program also has had extreme success in the classroom during Roth's tenure. The Bulldogs are first in total number of student-athletes named to the WCC Commissioner's Honor Roll since its inception in 2004 and have maintained a 3.1 GPA or higher since fall 1998. Roth has also overseen the upgrades of multiple facilities. In 2003, Gonzaga added the Kermit Rudolf Fitness Center for Gonzaga students, faculty and staff. In 2004, GU opened the McCarthey Athletic Center, a 6,000-seat basketball arena which is the home for the Bulldog men's and women's basketball teams as well as the Harry A. Green Indoor Rowing Center. He has also overseen the opening of the Patterson Baseball Complex, a new soccer field, sports medicine center and a student-athlete academic lab.