"First and foremost, I wanted someone who is passionate about the University of Houston and UH athletics. Winning games is important, but helping young people be winners in the game of life is essential. Mack Rhoades understands that this is what I expect."
University of Houston President/Chancellor Renu Khator
Mack Rhoades became the 11th director of athletics in University of Houston history with his hiring in June 2009 after an award-winning career at the University of Akron.
With his vision of an award-winning Athletics Department, both academically and athletically, Rhoades has electrified the University and City of Houston with his bold plans for Houston Athletics as its brand continues to spread nationally.
All of this has been done while remaining true to the department's core values: Accountability, Excellence, Inclusivity, Integrity, Loyalty and Sportsmanship.
Working with Dr. Renu Khator, Rhoades successfully steered Houston into a new era as the University was invited in December of 2011 to join The American Athletic Conference beginning with the 2013-14 academic year.
One year later the demolition of Robertson Stadium signified another new period of Houston Athletics as it kicked off the construction of the $120 million, state-of-the-art, on-campus TDECU Stadium.
The facility joined the the Houston Basketball Developmental Facility, Dave Williams Golf Academy and Mike and Pat Booker Short Game Facility at Redstone Golf Club as new structures under Rhoades' watch. Major renovations to Cougar Field, Cougar Softball Stadium and the Athletics/Alumni Center have also recently occurred while planned renovations of Hofheinz Pavilion and other facilities are currently in the works.
The first year in The American saw one of the most successful years in Houston Athletics history as Houston's programs combined for 157 victories, 17 American individual championships, 10 NCAA postseason berths and two American team titles as the Houston Men's Outdoor Track and Field and Baseball programs both accomplished the feat.
With so much success in competition, Houston totaled 257 points in the Learfield Directors' Cup to finish third among all schools in The American and record its highest national finish since 2000-01. The accomplishments were not limited to competition as Houston student-athletes set a school record for cumulative grade point average after the spring semester with 11 of 17 sport programs finishing the year with a 3.02 cumulative GPA or better.
His impact was immediately seen in 2009-10 during his first season as he led the Athletics Department to unprecedented heights. Under his watch, the football program returned to the national rankings - rising as high as No. 12 - the men's track and field teams swept the indoor and outdoor titles and the men's basketball team won its first Conference USA Tournament crown.
The three conference titles marked the first of 12 in Rhoades' first five years on campus. Under his direction, Houston teams have advanced to postseason competition 41 times while two individuals have won National Championships and 42 individuals have earned All-America honors.
The fall of 2011 season saw Houston reach heights it had never visited before as Houston football set a season record with 13 wins and a No. 6 national ranking while the UH campus became the first ever Conference USA program to have ESPN Gameday broadcast live from it.
Those accolades also extended into the classroom. The conclusion of the 2014 spring semester saw Houston Athletics post record academic achievements with its highest ever fall semester grade point average, 2.82, and its highest overall cumulative GPA after a spring semester, 2.88, to date. Eleven of Houston's 17 sport programs earned a cumulative GPA of 3.02 or better following the spring semester.
In addition to the spring semester results, the Men's Cross Country and Women's Tennis programs earned the NCAA's Public Recognition Award given to programs with Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores in the top 10 percent of their respective sports during the 2012-13 academic year.
Men's Golf, Women's Golf, Football, Tennis and Women's Track and Field all posted their best-ever cumulative GPAs after the spring semester, while Men's and Women's Golf programs recorded their best-ever spring semester GPAs. Men's Basketball and Men's Track and Field were just behind with their second-best cumulative GPAs following the spring semester.
Under Rhoades' leadership, Cougar Pride, Houston Athletics' fundraising arm, set an annual donations record for the fifth consecutive year in 2013-14 as more than 3,100 Cougar Pride members contributed $4.5 million, topping the previous record of $3.5 million the year before.
Rhoades also has been a leader in the development of the Cougar Pride Leadership Academy. As one of just a handful across the nation, the program brings student-athletes together as freshmen through to graduation with activities that promote the complete person.
A leader among conference administrators as well, Rhoades was named the chair of The American Athletic Conference Athletics Directors Committee, Athletics Directors Executive Committee and Athletics Directors Finance Committee after having served as the Conference USA chairperson for the Championship and Site Selection Committee.
This kind of leadership is nothing new for Rhoades during his professional career. Sweeping changes, a $61.6 million on-campus football stadium, the creation of a women's golf program and unprecedented success within an athletics department recognized three times for its diversity strategy were only a small part of Rhoades' signature on the Akron program.
During his tenure, the numbers alone spoke for themselves: 765 total Dean's List honors, 213 All-Conference honors, 83 student-athletes named Academic All-Conference, 20 team championships won, 14 Conference Players of the Year and 12 All-Americans to name a few.
All the on-field success was matched off the field as well. In 2006, Akron's federal graduation rate was 60 percent, exceeding the general student body's by 25 percent. In 2008, UA's student-athlete federal graduation rate stood at 75 percent. Also, Akron's overall student-athlete GPA increased from 2.789 to 2.964.
Not to be lost in the excellence on the field and in the classroom is the fact that UA student-athletes completed more than 1,600 hours of community service during his last three years.
Most impressively, Rhoades led Akron to success while balancing the budget each of his last three years. In 2008-09, he implemented a zero-based budget, where coaches and unit heads pre-planned spending in order to present a need-based budget proposal to the University Board of Trustees. With a proven track record of budget management and proactive steps, Rhoades gained support from University officials, allowing the department's budget to grow from $13.5 million to $19.2 million during his tenure.
His drive for perfection and expectation of excellence quickly put his name on the map nationally. Rhoades served as a member of the NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet -- also serving on the Administrative Committee of that cabinet as well as leading the communications committee for the MAC.
On the business end of the spectrum, Rhoades played a key role and was chairperson on the steering committee in the Zips' new on-campus football and multi-use facility -- InfoCision Stadium/Summa Field -- which opened in September 2009.
He also oversaw vast improvements to all facilities. James A. Rhodes Arena enjoyed new office space for all programs and units, expansion and renovation of academic services, a volleyball office suite, an academic advising suite, a media work room and locker room upgrades for all basketball programs. Lee Jackson Field Complex saw the creation of a new softball facility allowing the program to play on campus, resurfacing the baseball field and enhancing the dugouts, renovation to the soccer field and renovation of the track & field complex, refurbishing the track surface, adding 1,500 permanent seats and ornamental fencing.
The field house also welcomed a new program under Rhoades' watch with the creation of the women's golf program, which shared the state-of-the-art indoor practice facility with the UA men.
Financial success was not limited to just dollars from the University.
UA football went from reporting an average of approximately 5,000 fans per game to going beyond the NCAA-required 15,000 in each of his three years. With the addition of InfoCision Stadium, revenue and season ticket sales for 2009 already were at an all-time high. Also, men's basketball season ticket sales increased each year, while the success of the men's soccer team brought on the demand for season-ticket packages for the first time in 2009.
Rhoades increased staffing levels across the department, adding 10 full-time assistant coaches and creating more than 30 full-time and graduate assistants positions within the department.
Rhoades came to Akron after a seven-year stint at UTEP, where he most recently served as the executive senior associate athletics director. He worked his way up the ranks with the Miners after joining the staff as assistant AD for development.
In his final role with 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.
While at UTEP, Rhoades administered the Athletic Major Gift Program, through which $9.1 million was raised. He also was instrumental in increasing marketing revenue from $800,000 to $1.33 million in just four years. In addition, he guided UTEP to being among the conference leaders in attendance for football and men's basketball.
Rhoades was heavily involved in athletics facility upgrades at UTEP, including the construction of the $11 million Larry K. Durham Sports Center which houses state-of-the-art football coaches' offices and locker rooms, as well as a training room and strength and conditioning center for all sports.
Prior to his stint at UTEP, he worked at Marquette, where he was the athletics advancement officer. In that role, Rhoades oversaw all external operations for the Office of Athletic Advancement and the Blue & Gold Athletic Scholarship Fund.
Rhoades worked for one year as an athletics marketing assistant for Yale, where he developed marketing plans for football, men's basketball, men's ice hockey and the NCAA Fencing Championships. Additionally, he obtained sponsorship agreements for Yale Athletics.
A graduate of the University of Arizona with a bachelor's degree in physical education, Rhoades later attended Indiana University where he earned his master's degree in sports management and marketing.
He and his wife, Amy, have three daughters - Nicolette, Natalie and Noelle.