AKRON - Michael J. Thomas has been named director of athletics at The University of Akron. Thomas comes to Akron from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he served as associate athletic director since 1993.
Thomas was formally introduced to the University community and the media during a press conference today in the James A. Rhodes Arena, on campus. Thomas has signed a multi-year contract to the year 2005. He will be paid $115,000 annually.
A Pueblo, Colo., native, Thomas emerged as the selection following an extensive national search. He has an extensive background in intercollegiate athletics and has successfully handled a wide range of responsibilities at Virginia. As part of Virginia's senior management team, Thomas' duties, in part, included supervising eight varsity programs and managing a budget of more than $5 million.
Thomas, 40, also played an important role in Virginia's football stadium expansion and fundraising committee, as well as serving on committees on gender equity and financial and strategic planning.
"I'd like to thank President Luis Proenza, Dean Richard Aynes, the search committee chairman, as well as other members of the committee for providing me with this tremendous professional opportunity to lead The University of Akron athletic department," said Thomas. "University of Akron athletics has a proud history. I look forward to building upon that history and positioning UA athletics to compete at the highest level as we enter the new millennium."
University of Akron President Luis Proenza says that Thomas brings a wealth of talent to the University.
"We're delighted that our national search has brought forward someone with Michael Thomas' experience, excitement, and sense of vision for the future," Proenza said. "We look forward to him leading our athletic program to increased levels of recognition and success, including many MAC and NCAA records."
Virginia Athletic Director Terry Holland also lauded Thomas for his career success. "Mike Thomas is one of the very best young athletic administrators in Division I today. Our staff members, and particularly our coaches, will miss him greatly, although we all wish him well as the athletic director at Akron," said Holland. "He will do an outstanding job in every area. Mike has been a huge part of our success in moving up the Sears Cup rankings, and he and his family have been great friends on a personal level."
Thomas takes the helm of a strong Zips athletic program, with 18 varsity sports, featuring nearly 340 student-athletes. Having joined the Mid-American Conference in 1992, UA's teams have made a considerable competitive jump the last few years, winning three league titles in men's soccer, conference championships in women's cross country (19990, women's track & field (1999), softball (1998) and the baseball tournament title (1996). The Zips also have won divisional titles in women's volleyball (1999) and men's basketball (1998). At the same time, the Zips have attained record levels of academic achievement as well.
Before joining the University of Virginia, Thomas held the post of assistant director of athletics at the University of Denver.
During his tenure in Virginia, Thomas was active in community and civic events. He served as a member of the Charlottesville Catholic School Board of Directors, the Charlottesville Catholic School Development committee and as a YMCA youth basketball coach.
Thomas participates in several intercollegiate athletic organizations, including the National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics, the Collegiate Athletic Business Managers Association and the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association.
Thomas and his wife, Jenifer, have four children, Vince, 15, Joey, 11, Mick, 9 and Meredith, 5. Thomas received a master's degree in athletics administration from Western Illinois University in 1986 and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Colorado State University in 1983.