Darren Dunn serves as the Athletics Department's Deputy Athletics Director after joining the Cougars in October 2009. In that role, he oversees the Athletic Communiciations, Development, Marketing and Promotions, Licensing, Video Department and Ticket Office while assisting Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades in all facets of administration and serving as Houston's liason with IMG College Sports.
Under Dunn's leadership, the external departments in the Houston Athletics Department have thrived. Houston's development arm, Cougar Pride, set a record with a total of $3.8 million in fundraising during the 2012-13 season while the Athletics Communications office was honored by the FWAA as one of its Super 11 award winners.
Following the 2010 football season, the Houston Marketing department was awarded the Crystal Award from the Houston chapter of the American Marketing Association and the Best Amateur Sports/Entertainment award from the same organization. Working with Dunn, the Houston IMG College Sports office has continually reached record sales levels in recent years.
Dunn came to Houston after 11 years in Albuquerque, N.M., where he worked for eight-and-a-half years at the University of New Mexico and more than two years as the General Manager of Lobo Sports Properties/Learfield Sports. In his role as General Manager, Dunn directed and managed all aspects of the New Mexico Athletics Department's multimedia rights, including all sponsorship sales for athletics facilities, Lobo Radio Network, TV game broadcasts and Lobo Club special events.
While working with Lobo Sports Properties (LSP), Dunn increased sponsorship/advertising sales to over $5 million a year. He also created new inventory to increase revenue including, but not limited to, field level suites, LED signage, concession rights, naming rights, commemorative events and other unique elements. He also assisted in increasing the Lobo Radio Network from one affiliate to 13 in two years.
Prior to his stint with LSP, Dunn was UNM's Associate Athletics Director from Dec. 1998 until Feb. 2007, when he moved over to LSP. As Associate AD, Dunn directed and managed the marketing and promotions department and the corporate sponsorship program, while coordinating all external affairs for the Lobo Athletics Department. Dunn also supervised the baseball and softball programs, expanded the community relations program, and chaired the Senior Management Advisement Committee to research new revenue streams and review/reduce departmental expenses.
Dunn negotiated New Mexico's multimedia rights agreement for over $60 million over twelve years, and he also increased the UNM Lobo Sponsorship Program from $1.2 million to over $3.3 million per year in cash commitments. He managed the University's Licensing Program, increasing its revenue over 200%, while working closely with the Lobo Store merchandise sales and increased the rights' fee 100% to over $300,000 per year.
Before he settled in at UNM, Dunn was the Director of Marketing & Promotions at the University of Tulsa. As TU's Director of Marketing, Dunn developed, executed and controlled a complete marketing plan for football, men's and women's basketball and volleyball including production and placement of radio, television and print advertising, game promotions, pre-game and halftime activities and student participation.
He increased the Athletics Department's Corporate Partnership program from $400,000 to over $800,000, and secured over $450,000 in new gift-in-kind print, radio and television advertising inventory through a unique solicitation plan directed at area media outlets. Dunn also increased football season ticket sales by 25% after seven consecutive losing seasons.
Dunn also spent three years as Director of Athletic Sales at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., where he coordinated the corporate sponsorship program, which included a strategic plan for research and solicitation of current and prospective sponsors. He began his athletics career at UNM in Sept. 1991, where he served a year-and-a-half as Assistant Marketing Director.
A four-year baseball letterman at the University of Denver, Dunn graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science/business administration in 1991. He later earned his masters degree in sports administration from New Mexico in 1992.
A native of Escondido, Calif., Dunn was named "Top 40 Under 40" in New Mexico in 2007 by New Mexico Business Weekly. He was also the 1997 Tulsa Rotary Club Professional of the Year, and was a Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges in 1992.
Dunn and his wife, Steffanie, are the parents of three children: Allison and twins Ava and Andrew.
What They are Saying...
"I think Darren is one of the up-and-coming superstars of intercollegiate athletics. He is a lot like Mack (Rhoades) in that he has come a long way in a short amount of time, and he is very outgoing and good in all aspects of athletics administration, especially externally. Darren is a great asset for the Houston Athletics Department, and I am very pleased with him going to Houston because of the ties I have with Cougar Athletics." - Rudy Davalos, former Director of Athletics at University of New Mexico and University of Houston
"The University of Houston has added an extremely bright and talented administrator to their team in Darren Dunn. Darren brings great passion, work ethic and experience that will help advance their program to even greater heights." - Judy MacLeod, Conference USA Executive Associate Commissioner and former Director of Athletics at University of Tulsa
"What a terrific hire and great match for both the University of Houston and for Darren Dunn. Darren is really an outstanding administrator. He has the breadth and depth of experience to contribute to the advancement of UH athletics in a big way. No one has greater expertise or a more focused mindset when it comes to revenue generation than Darren, I promise you. He has a proven track record in that regard that very few people in intercollegiate athletics can match. As someone who has been there, loves the place and knows the wonderful opportunities in front of the Coogs, I couldn't be happier for the university. Darren will be a joy to work with for the student-athletes, coaches, staff and supporters of UH."---Bill McGillis, Executive Associate Athletics Director at the University of South Florida