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The Word on the Herd-April 1, 2013
A letter from Mike Hamrick
August 23, 2013 - Marshall 3, Campbell 0
Mike Hamrick’s return to Marshall University as athletic director has been more than a personal homecoming to Huntington for the former Thundering Herd linebacker.
It’s been a transformation for MU athletics, too.
Hamrick, in his eighth year as the Herd AD, has spearheaded The Vision Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in Marshall Athletics history. Hamrick has teamed with former Herd star athletes and campaign co-chairs Mike D’Antoni and Chad Pennington. The Vision Campaign has raised more than $33 million in private dollars as part of a $35 million-plus plan to enhance Herd facilities.
The Vision Campaign gave Marshall one of the best college soccer stadiums in the nation, as Hoops Family Field at the Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex opened in August 2013. Opened between August 2014 and July 2015 was the prime piece of the project – the Chris Cline Athletic Complex. That includes the Indoor Athletic Facility with its 120-yard football field and 300-meter Jeff Small Track; the Marshall Sports Medicine Institute; the 14,000-square-foot Buck Harless Student-Athlete Academic Center; and a museum home for the MU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Another improvement was the addition of eight suites to the sky deck of Joan C. Edwards Stadium, plus new bathrooms and other fan-friendly changes to that level of the pressbox, including a third elevator. Prior to the 2015 season, a new $750,000 AstroTurf surface was also installed.
In Hamrick’s seven years as the Marshall AD, the program’s facility growth and enhancement has been more than $42 million.
Hamrick, 58 and a 1980 MU graduate, was named to the AD post on July 20, 2009. He wasted no time in reaching out to former Herd letter winners, alumni and friends of MU to build a consensus on what Thundering Herd supporters sought in the program. The response has been strong.
He brought in Coach Doc Holliday to transform the football program, and the Herd has won four bowls in the past five seasons. Marshall finished 10-4 in 2013 and then won its first Conference USA title in 2014, finishing 13-1 and No. 22/23 in the final national polls. The Herd went 10-3 in 2015 and is the only Group of Five program with three consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins.
In July 2016, Hamrick was named to the NCAA’s Division I Football Oversight Committee, which ensures that appropriate oversight of football for both the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) is maintained; enhances the development of the sport and make recommendations related to regular-season and postseason football.
In men’s basketball, Hamrick brought in alumnus and MU Hall of Famer Dan D’Antoni from the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers in April to re-energize a program that in 2011-12 made the National Invitation Tournament field for the first time since 1988. In 2015-16, the program achieved 12 regular season league wins for the first time since 2000-01 and set 14 C-USA, school and Henderson Center records. Under Hamrick hire Matt Daniel, the women’s basketball team reached the quarterfinals of the WBI in 2014-15, the program’s first postseason bid since the 1997 NCAA Tournament, and followed that with its first trip to the NIT last year.
Under Hamrick’s watch, women’s basketball, swimming and men’s and women’s golf have gotten new head coaches, too. All of the Herd programs have gained more academic and financial support since Hamrick’s arrival, and their progress in the classroom and on the field is one of Hamrick’s core efforts and desires.
In the classroom, Marshall's student-athletes dominated Conference USA’s academic awards. In 2015-16, the Thundering Herd led Conference USA with 60 academic medal winners (11 more than its closest competitor), given annually to those student-athletes who register a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or better, and also had a league-high four scholar-athlete award winners. Bill Tramel’s swimming and diving program also posted a 3.68 GPA, the highest among the league’s aquatic programs, and fourth-highest nationally.
Hamrick’s arrival also has brought a challenging schedule upgrade to the Herd’s major sports. He has landed home-and-home football series with North Carolina State, Pitt, Louisville, Purdue, Boise State, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Navy and Appalachian State, rekindled a longtime rivalry with Miami (Ohio) with a four-game contract and renewed the “Battle of the Bell” series with Ohio. In men’s basketball, Marshall has scheduled Maryland, Tennessee, Syracuse, Kentucky, Louisville, Cincinnati, Villanova, Ohio State and Pittsburgh in recent seasons, and has gotten rare home-and-home deals with two power conference programs in Penn State and South Carolina.
In his second year, Hamrick initiated many new fundraising endeavors that committed nearly $2 million to the program. His efforts have also led to rapid growth and development in the Big Green Foundation and in Marshall's M Club (former student-athletes) that has increased donation levels by 50 percent. The M Club has increased its membership to a record 500-plus. Big Green membership has risen to 3,200, ranking among the top three schools in athletic fundraising club membership in Conference USA.
He negotiated a marketing contract extension with IMG College in the summer of 2010 that poured nearly $3 million into Marshall Athletics and is currently negotiating an extension that will generate millions more for the program.
More recently, the Henderson Center’s fan comfort was enhanced again with an air flow and distribution upgrade and a new public address sound system. A new, $155,000 playing floor was installed prior to the 2013-14 season. Under Hamrick’s direction, the facility has also been given a new roof, new lighting and new video and ribbon boards to go with additional upgrades totaling $2.25 million.
Hamrick served as AD at UNLV for six years before returning to his alma mater. Prior to his position at UNLV, Hamrick was director of athletics at East Carolina University from 1995-2003. He also has been AD at Arkansas-Little Rock, assistant AD at Illinois State, and assistant AD at Kansas.
Hamrick played football at Marshall University from 1976-79, starting at linebacker his last two seasons. After receiving his bachelor's degree in education from Marshall, he earned his master's degree in sports administration from Ohio University in 1981.
Hamrick is a native of Clendenin, W.Va. – in Kanawha County, near Charleston. He is a graduate of Herbert Hoover High School. He and his wife, Soletta, a Huntington native and also a Marshall graduate, reside in Barboursville, W.Va.
The Hamricks have three children -- twin sons, Brett and Justin and a daughter, Mollie Ann. Brett works for NIKE, in Portland, Ore., and Justin is currently finishing his master’s degree at Marshall. Mollie Ann, a Marshall graduate who also has a master’s degree from Kentucky, is employed by Marshall Health Family Medicine.