Barbour selected NACDA athletics director of the year

March 02, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) has selected Penn State’s Sandy Barbour as one of the recipients of the prestigious Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Award.

Barbour is among four Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) athletic directors honored with the NACDA AD of the Year Award for 2016-17, being joined by: Boo Coorigan (Army West Point), Jay Jacobs (Auburn) and Blake James (Miami, Florida).

The AD of the Year Award recipients will be honored at the James J. Corbett Memorial Award Luncheon on June 13 during the 52nd Annual NACDA Convention in Orlando, Florida.

“I’m thrilled that Sandy is being nationally recognized for her outstanding work on behalf of student-athletes, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, our alumni and the millions of Penn State fans around the world,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “Leading a Division I program is a complex endeavor, and Sandy manages it with intelligence, enthusiasm and success. This is a well-deserved achievement.”

“I’m humbled and honored to receive this award from my peers,” Barbour said. “This award is also a recognition of the great work that has come before me to build a remarkable foundation for success. Most importantly, it is a validation of the spectacular work that our entire team does on behalf of Penn State student-athletes. It honors every staff member, coach and student-athlete that toils daily on behalf of Penn State; a recognition of our outstanding team that is committed to comprehensive excellence.”

Leader of Premier Athletic Department in Academic, Athletic and Community Achievement

Barbour directs one of the nation’s most comprehensive and successful athletic programs that boasts an NCAA graduation success rate of 89 percent, winning 76 national championships and 102 Big Ten titles all-time. She oversees broad-based program that supports approximately 800 student-athletes in 31 sports (16 men’s/15 women’s) and an Intercollegiate Athletics staff of nearly 300 whose daily mission is preparing students for a lifetime of impact. Penn State’s 31 programs are tied for fourth-highest among all 128 FBS institutions.

During the 2016 fall semester, a school record 24 Penn State squads, powered by 498 student-athletes, earned at least a 3.0 grade-point average. A total of 223 Nittany Lion students posted at least a 3.5 GPA last fall to garner Dean’s List honors. Under Barbour’s leadership, 13 Penn State squads earned perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores of 1,000 in 2014-15, up from 10 the previous year. A school record 299 Penn State student-athletes garnered Academic All-Big Ten accolades in 2015-16 and nine Nittany Lion student-athletes have earned CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades during her tenure.

Penn State was ranked No. 7 in the Learfield Directors’ Cup fall 2016 standings. The Nittany Lions have won a conference-leading five Big Ten championships or tournament titles thus far in 2016-17 in field hockey, football, women’s indoor track and field, women’s soccer and wrestling (regular season). During Barbour’s initial two-plus years of leading Penn State Athletics, the Nittany Lions have captured NCAA championships in women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and wrestling and won 16 conference championships and tournament titles (13 Big Ten, 3 EIVA).

In addition to their academic and athletic achievements, Penn State student-athletes also combined to spend more than 8,000 hours involved in community engagement in 2015-16.

AD of the Year Program Honors Leaders at all Divisions

The Under Armour AD of the Year Award program was created to honor intercollegiate directors of athletics for their commitment and administrative excellence within a campus and/or college community environment. Recognized as one of the nation’s premier athletic directors, Barbour is among 28 recipients of the 2016-17 AD of the Year Award, spanning seven divisions (NCAA FBS, FCS, Division I-AAA, II, III, NAIA/Other Four-Year Institutions and Junior College/Community Colleges).

"We are proud to honor the 28 directors of athletics, from all levels of NACDA’s membership, as the Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Class of 2016-17,” said NACDA Executive Director Bob Vecchione. “This award was created by the leadership of NACDA in 1998 to honor those athletics directors who have done an outstanding job in the eyes of their peers.”

Bringing the “Why” to Penn State Athletics

A native of Annapolis, Maryland, 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.

Barbour began her dynamic leadership of the Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics program in August 2014 and has quickly made a significant imprint on ICA and the Penn State communities. She soon began implementing her vision for ICA and creating conditions for success for the department’s “Why” – the approximately 800 Nittany Lion student-athletes.

In March, 2015, she announced a reorganization of ICA that introduced a more vertical structure to encourage communication and collaboration across functional units and sports. Four administrative divisions were formed: student-athlete performance, health and welfare; internal and external operation, administration and business and finance.

Barbour is overseeing a comprehensive facilities master planning study that will be announced later this month. Penn State 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 provide a road map for addressing current and long-term needs for more than 20 Nittany Lions facilities (competition, practice, performance enhancement and training) and office space.  

The first facility project completed under Barbour’s leadership is one she is particularly proud of -- the conversion of the Greenberg Sports Complex to the new Morgan Academic Center (MAC). Advising, tutoring, computer labs, group study areas and meeting rooms for student-athletes previously were located in four separate locations on campus. The completion of the MAC provides a central and expanded academic and student welfare hub for Penn State student-athletes and will assist in keeping academic services and the academic performance of Nittany Lion student-athletes at the forefront among the nation’s premier Division I institutions.

Early in her tenure at Penn State, Barbour made a gift of $100,000 for the Morgan Academic Center project, with a portion of her donation used to create a One Button production studio where students can record a speech or presentation and review it prior to delivering in class.

Recognized Twice by Forbes for Intercollegiate Athletics’ Leadership

In December, 2015, Forbes recognized Barbour among its Top 25 Most Powerful People in College Sports. Barbour, who was ranked No. 24, was among six athletic directors on the list and joined Big East Commissioner Val as the female executives who were recognized by Forbes. Forbes also selected Barbour No. 11 among the Most Powerful Women in Sports. She was among four executives listed who work primarily in intercollegiate athletics and was the highest ranked athletic director; No. 2 overall in college sports.

Barbour came to Penn State in 2014 after serving 10 years as director of athletics at the University of California. During her tenure overseeing Cal’s 30-sport program, the Golden Bears won 20 team national championships, 97 individual national titles, finished in the top 10 in the annual Learfield Directors’ Cup standings six times, including a program-best third in 2011, and reached record levels in ticket sales, sponsorships and fundraising.

Prior to moving to Berkeley, Barbour was the deputy director of athletics at Notre Dame, serving as the university's senior athletic administrator from July 2002 to September 2004. She previously held an associate athletic director position there starting in 2000. Barbour served as Tulane’s director of athletics for three years prior to joining the Fighting Irish.

Barbour graduated cum laude in 1981 with a B.S. degree in physical education from Wake Forest, where she was a four-year letterwinner and served as captain of the field hockey team. She also played two varsity seasons of women's basketball. She earned advanced degrees at Massachusetts (M.S. in sports management in 1983) and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management (MBA in 1991).

Between master's programs, Barbour served as assistant field hockey and lacrosse coach at Northwestern from 1982-84. She also held the position of director of recruiting services during that period, before being promoted to assistant athletic director for intercollegiate programs in 1984, a position she held until 1989.

Last Updated March 02, 2017