Rice University has selected a high-ranking Stanford athletic administrator who ran and coached track and field to be the university’s next director of athletics, recreation and lifetime fitness.
Joe Karlgaard, senior associate athletic director for development at Stanford, was introduced as the new athletic director by Rice President David Leebron at a news conference this morning. His first day of work is Oct. 7. He replaces Rick Greenspan, who resigned in June.
“We’re thrilled to be able to attract someone with Joe’s breadth of experience,” Leebron said. “He brings the values of academic excellence and high integrity that define Rice, coupled with a passionate desire to compete successfully at the most competitive level of intercollegiate athletics.”
Karlgaard was athletics director from 2005 to 2011 at Division III Oberlin College. His tenure at Oberlin, a distinguished liberal arts college, and his experience as a senior administrator at academically-rich Stanford was appealing to Leebron and the 13-member AD search committee.
“We had an extraordinary group of candidates for this position,” said Kevin Kirby, chair of the committee and Rice vice president for administration. “Joe really stood out among the highly qualified finalists we recommended to President Leebron. The committee is confident his proven track record and ability to develop a compelling vision and a realistic strategy to achieve it will be great assets to the Rice athletics program.”
Karlgaard said he was grateful to Leebron and the committee for this terrific opportunity.
“I'm excited to work with the Rice community to build an athletics program of the highest caliber,” he said. “Rice athletics is filled with potential, only some of which has been realized. My goal is to fully tap the energies, passion and resources of the Rice community to build a program of broad national prominence.”
Karlgaard graduated in 1996 from Stanford with a bachelor’s degree in history. He competed for the Cardinals track and field team. He returned to Stanford in 1998 as an assistant to Vin Lananna, his former track coach. While on staff, Karlgaard helped guide the team to a NCAA outdoor title, the school’s first since 1934.
Karlgaard left to coach track and cross county at Minnesota while pursuing a doctoral degree in educational policy and administration. He earned the doctorate from Minnesota in 2005.
While leading Oberlin athletics, 12 of 22 varsity programs achieved their highest conference placement in NCAC history.
Karlgaard also led the enhancement of athletics facilities and raised record amounts of money. Oberlin invested $8 million in athletics facilities improvements over five years. Karlgaard also effectively reached out to Oberlin’s alumni base by raising more than $500,000 through the Heisman Club and ushering in several major gifts for facility improvements.
“Joe helped restore the rich tradition of Oberlin athletics during his six-year tenure as athletics director,” said Marvin Krislov, president of Oberlin College. “In addition to strengthening Oberlin’s competitive profile, Joe improved our athletics facilities and raised record amounts of money. The Oberlin College Department of Athletics is stronger and healthier because of Joe Karlgaard.”
Karlgaard worked for two years in his present role at Stanford. He was responsible for helping set the strategic direction for a $90 million annual budget and led the Athletics Department’s efforts in delivering the greatest single-year increase in the school’s fundraising history.
Greenspan had been athletic director at Rice since March 2010. On June 13, the university announced Greenspan would step down on June 30. The reason cited was expanding his consulting business and exploring other professional opportunities that have been presented to him.
Rick Mello, Rice senior executive athletic director, served as interim athletic director.
Leebron formed the search committee in July and said at the time the plan was to have a new AD picked by early September. Rice hired the search firm Korn/Ferry International to assist the committee.
Gabe Baker, a junior football player; and Natalie Beazant, a junior women’s tennis player, were the two student-athletes on the committee. They were joined by Rice trustees, administrators, alumni and local business leaders.
The only other publically reported candidate was Duke deputy director of athletics Mike Cragg. He withdrew his name from consideration earlier this month.