Barbour selected to Forbes Top 25 Most Powerful People in College Sports

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For the second time in less than a week, Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour has been recognized as one of the top executives in sports.

Forbes has selected Barbour among its Top 25 Most Powerful People in College Sports. Barbour, who was ranked No. 24, is among six athletic directors on the list and joins Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman as the female administrators who were recognized by Forbes.

Forbes said that Barbour "has developed a reputation for being one of the most forward thinking administrators in all of college sports."

Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany tops the Forbes survey and Barbour is among three Big Ten athletic directors listed, the most of any conference. Duke Athletic Director Kevin White, whom Barbour worked with at Tulane and Notre Dame, is No. 4. The complete listing of the Most Powerful People in College Sports can be found at:

Last week, Forbes selected Barbour No. 11 among the Most Powerful Women in Sports. She was among four administrators listed who work primarily in intercollegiate athletics and was the highest ranked athletic director.

In her second year directing the Nittany Lions’ 31-sport program, Barbour began her dynamic leadership of the Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics program in August 2014 and has quickly made a strong impression on one of the nation’s most successful and comprehensive athletic departments. She directs Penn State’s broad-based program that supports approximately 800 student-athletes and an Intercollegiate Athletics staff of nearly 300.

During the past year, Barbour has begun to implement her vision for Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. In March, she announced a reorganization of ICA that introduced a more vertical structure to encourage communication and collaboration across business units and sports. Four administrative divisions were formed: business and finance; student-athlete performance, health and welfare; internal and external operation and administration.
This past summer, Penn State launched a wide-ranging strategic planning process and conducted a series of town hall meetings, where students, faculty and staff, alumni and donors were presented with some of the initial findings of the project and had an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. The project will help determine strategies and priorities for the period of 2016-20 and beyond and should be completed in early 2016.

One of the nation’s most highly-respected athletic directors, Barbour also is overseeing a facilities master planning process that began in October. Penn State has partnered with Populous, one of the world’s leading architecture and sport event planning firms, to collaborate on programming, developing and producing a comprehensive facilities master plan to address current and long-term needs for all of the Nittany Lions’ facilities (competition, practice, performance enhancement and training) and office space.

Barbour began her tenure in Happy Valley with the women’s volleyball program capturing the 2014 NCAA championship and conference titles from the women’s soccer, men’s gymnastics, women’s lacrosse and men’s volleyball teams. This fall, Barbour has seen the first NCAA championship by the women’s soccer team on the heels of winning the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles and the women’s cross-country team capturing the Big Ten championship.

Penn State finished No. 8 in the 2014-15 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings to cap Barbour’s first year in Happy Valley. Twenty Nittany Lion squads competed in their respective NCAA championships, the football team won the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, and 30 teams participated in post-season competition. Nine Penn State teams advanced to or finished in the Top/Elite 8 of their respective NCAA championship in 2014-15. The Nittany Lions also captured individual NCAA titles in men’s fencing, men’s gymnastics and wrestling.

Penn State student-athletes delivered record-setting academic performances during Barbour’s inaugural year, including the two highest 3.0 grade-point totals in a semester in school history. During the 2014 fall semester, a school record 500 Nittany Lions earned at least a 3.0 grade-point average. Another mark was broken with 241 student-athletes garnering dean’s list honors by posting a GPA of 3.50 or higher. A total of 23 teams earned a semester GPA of 3.0 or higher for another Penn State mark.

A native of Annapolis, Maryland, Barbour joined several head coaches, Nittany Lion Club and Alumni Association staff members on the Penn State Coaches Caravan last May. At each of her 11 stops across Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Barbour met with alumni, fans and students and shared her vision for Penn State Athletics and creating the best conditions possible for student-athlete success in the classroom and on the playing field.

A Wake Forest graduate and student-athlete, Barbour brought to Penn State more than 30 years of varied experiences as a collegiate administrator and coach, with a demonstrated record of championships, academic success, innovation, facility modernization and revenue growth. President Eric J. Barron named Barbour the Nittany Lions’ ninth director of athletics after serving 10 years as director of athletics at the University of California.

Forbes assembled a panel of six individuals who have firsthand insight and knowledge of college sports’ most influential executives to determine the rankings.

According to Forbes, the panelists were asked to consider the following when nominating candidates for the list: (1) Quantitative Metrics, (2) Sphere of Influence, and (3) Impact. Quantitative Metrics related to specific measurable criteria such as organizational revenues the candidate is in charge of, as well as measurable career accomplishments (employees managed, sales figures, etc.). Sphere of Influence asked panelists to take into consideration whether the candidate has influence outside their specific company or vertical, and whether they touch multiple areas of the sports industry. Finally, Impact relates to how actively and successfully the individual wields their power within their organization or brand, sector and the global stage.

Last Updated December 15, 2015